Unrated, 2 hr. 23 min. Directed By: Akira Kurosawa. Release Date: Nov 26, 1963. DVD Release Date: Oct 13, 1998.
I haven’t thought about One Week by the Barenaked Ladies (or whatever they were called) in a billion years. Well, not a billion, but certainly a significant portion of my life time, say a third of it, and no I’m not going to discuss how many years that is. Nor am I estimating in dog years so it sounds better. This week, I’ve thought about it twice: once after seeing Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Slayer… oh wait, that was Buffy, and now that I’ve watched this truly awesome movie directed by Kurosawa (okay I don’t make films, but if I did they’d have a samurai).
Something nagged at me throughout this movie. It’s certainly Japanese enough, but the whole time it felt… inspired by Western cop dramas of the period. I later realized that this is the adaptation of a crime novel by Ed McBain, so the light dawned. At the time, I couldn’t figure it out, but in many ways these guys would have fit right in to any movie scene of the same period with few exceptions, mostly Mrs. Gondo, but wouldn’t The Apartment have been awesome if Shirley Maclaine was all geishaed up?
I can’t tell if the unsettling thing about this movie was that these people seemed so similar to American actors (and people) of the day, or if the Japanese actors were merely attempt to “simulate” Americanness. The latter is certainly possible, and there are a few moments where the characters behave in ways that would probably not be one of the seven habits of highly effective folks in Japan. After the sock hop scene, I was more inclined to think the latter, and if that’s the case, the Japanese did a remarkable job of emulating Western way of life. Usually when you see that, it’s not done too well, and this was done so well it was distracting to the story. There's even a scene that makes me understand the line from Archer where Woodhouse talks about it being "an itchy weekend" after Mallory and Archer steal his stash to use on Cyril.
So, I dug this as a culture study OF a culture study. As a cop drama, this was amazing, and I don't even LIKE cop dramas. The cast was great, and the story was lock solid. I can't find anything to gripe about except that they haven't made a remake yet... although I may have just jinxed that. If you haven't seen High and Low, you need to. Now.