1952, Janus Films, 143 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s haunting meditation on the need to “seize the day” was cited by critic Roger Ebert as his greatest film. Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura stars as Kanji Watanabe, a Tokyo bureaucrat diagnosed with stomach cancer. Hoping to find some meaning in what remains of his life, Watanabe breaks from the monotony of his job to crusade for a children’s park - a change his former coworkers struggle to understand. In Japanese with English subtitles.

1950, Janus Films, 88 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

The film that introduced not only classic Japanese cinema but an exceptional new talent, director Akira Kurosawa, to a widespread international audience. Based on the short story "In a Grove" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a tragic event involving a husband (Masayuki Mori), his wife (Machiko Kyo) and a local bandit (Toshiro Mifune) is recounted by participants and witnesses yielding conflicting accounts. Kurosawa explores the nature of truth, human fallibility and hope in a story that examines each version of what happened one hot, fateful day in a thick and lonely forest. With exceptional cinematography from the great Kazuo Miyagawa and a phenomenally eclectic score from Fumio Hayasaka, and that's just a start. From the wonderfully theatrical acting to the smooth-like-butter cuts-on-action to the astonishingly visceral orchestration of sound and images, RASHOMON clearly demonstrates Kurosawa's brilliance. In Japanese with English subtitles.

1960, Janus Films, 151 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s uncompromising exposé of Japanese white-collar crime is a startlingly bleak saga. Toshiro Mifune infiltrates the family of a corrupt businessman (Masayuki Mori) who had Mifune’s father, one of his underlings, murdered. Mifune, having switched identities with a friend (Takeshi Kato), worms his way into Mori’s household by marrying his crippled daughter (Kyoko Kagawa) and becoming best friends with his son (Tatsuya Mihashi) - both of whom are decent and don’t approve of their father’s nefarious connections with dishonest politicians and the underworld. Ironically, it is Mifune’s actually falling in love with Kagawa that lessens his resolve, which sociopath Mori ultimately manipulates to his advantage for the brutally realistic and pitiless conclusion. In Japanese with English subtitles.

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