The Other Kurosawa

The Other Kurosawa - The Other Kurosawa by Marco Mujica FIL...

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The Other Kurosawa by Marco Mujica FIL 1420, Valencia Community College Professor Matyas 16 Apr. 2008
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Mujica The Other Kurosawa When one thinks of Japanese cinema, the first name that should pop up is Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), the legendary Japanese director of samurai/ronin films (Seven Samurai (1954)), feudal Japan epics (Ran (1985)) and art house expressions (Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990)). A couple of decades ago, people interested in Asian cinema would have dived into Akira’s full body of films. Now, with a blatant boom of J-Horror films being adapted by Hollywood studios, curious viewers may stumble onto Japan’s other Kurosawa. Kiyoshi Kurosawa (1955- ), best known for films Cure (1997) and Kairo (2002), he has had a somewhat underground influence in the United States. Lacking the instant celebrity of flagship director Hideo Nakata (Ringu 1998), Kiyoshi was almost lost in the ebbing of the J-Horror boom in the US, with his Hollywood-adapted Pulse (2006) opening four years after The Ring (2002). Perhaps this was a mixed blessing for Kiyoshi, since Nakata’s style of horror has been overdone and copied dozens of times since hitting our shores. What separates this director from his counterparts is that he does not stick to horror and he is not extreme enough to be categorized with other Japanese cult masters such as Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer (2001)) and Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo The Iron Man (1989)). So then, who is Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Kiyoshi Kurosawa had a slow climb to distinction. He started filming for studios during the 1970’s, when Japan’s studio system was much like Hollywood in the 1940’s and 50’s (O’Rourke). In order to gain any kind of power or recognition, you first had to start with below- the-line positions till you made enough of an impact to be promised more responsibility. He worked as a journeyman till he was granted his first directing jobs. Working for a studio, he was restricted to genres, only allowing a minimum of self-expression. This genre-limited studio system would work to Kurosawa’s advantage in the future. While US directors may get their 2
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Mujica start working on music videos or low-budget television commercials, Kurosawa got his start with “Roman Porno.” This is the equivalent to our “nudie” picture here in the States. This is actually very common in Japan. Sion Sono (1961- ), director of Suicide Circle (2002) got his start in gay porn, but rose to promise nevertheless. Afterwards, Kurosawa made a string of V-Cinema
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The Other Kurosawa - The Other Kurosawa by Marco Mujica FIL...

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