Games, life, whatever: a blog from Steve Lawson

Category: Movies

Booksmart, dir. Olivia Wilde

I mean, I didn’t hate it. But I’m probably not the target audience for a graduating-from-high-school movie since I have a son who is a high school senior right now.


But who is the audience for semi-raunchy high school comedies? I’d think the kids would find them “cringy” while people my age probably should find them a bit uncomfortable (“ooh, I hope those two teen characters have sex by the end of the movie!”).

The actresses are very good, everyone looks like they are having fun, it’s cool to have a movie like this from the girls’ perspective, it’s cool that one of those girls is a lesbian. It just didn’t really do it for me. I’d assume that Fast Times at Ridgemont High doesn’t really hold up either. I’ll stick with Dazed and Confused which I re-watched year or two ago and thought it did hold up pretty well.

Also this is the second movie I have seen in less than a week where a character vomits on another character for comedic effect. I’m not a fan.

Stray Dog by Akira Kurosawa

I think of myself as a Kurosawa fan, but I’ve only really seen Seven Samurai three or four times and Rashomon probably once. When I was grabbing DVDs to check out for winter break, I picked up his Stray Dog. I didn’t know anything about it, but it said it was a detective story, so I thought it sounded good.

Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura–both also in Seven Samurai–star as a younger and older cop who go in search of the criminal in possession of Mifune’s character’s pistol. It was one of Kuroswa’s earlier movies and is set in contemporary post-war Tokyo, rather than being one of the period pieces he’s more known for.

It feels a lot like a European Noir film to me. The style is mostly realism, but there are some scenes and effects that remind me of Fritz Lang.

The detective story is good and engrossing, but the more interesting parts to me are how it depicts the chaotic and desperate street life of Tokyo in the years immediately following WWII. Mifune’s detective takes to the streets disguised as a down-and-out soldier (a fate that the character evidently only narrowly avoided) and there is a long sequence of documentary footage edited together with footage of Mifune.

The other scene that I expect to remember for a long time is when Mifune’s detective finally catches the perpetrator that he’s come to identify with as a dark mirror to his own character. He chases the criminal into a field or high grasses and wildflowers. Throughout the film it has been unbearably hot in Tokyo and the men sweat and pant and slog through the grass until Mifune finally catches his man and they both collapse and pant and wheeze lying next to each other. Then the criminal begins to cry and moan and wail uncontrollably. Extremely affecting.