Complete list of the films Guillermo del Toro has recommended on twitter. Click the 'Read notes' button to see his…
High and Low
Intense and Highly Entertaining
An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.
Leave it to Kurosawa to make an hour of listing evidence and clues exciting.
High and Low is tight, tense, and engaging, but what makes it so great for me is that Kurosawa (based on the book King's Ransom by Ed McBain) uses an almost Dante-like structuring of the three points of view by which this story is told. Each act is a discrete and self-contained plot with its own beginning, middle, and end, which make High and Low more of a crime anthology than an epic. Still, all the main characters appear (physically or vocally) in all three stories, tying them together and leaving room for an epilogue which unites the circuitous narrative. In addition, the class-warfare analogies really…
Complicated history with this one, as the first time I saw it (at a tender age, shortly after starting NYU film school) I jumped to a completely false conclusion about what was going on, then proceeded to construct the foundation for my magnum opus The Ruse using the alternate version I'd imagined. Made it hard for me to see the film for what it is, obviously, and on top of that I think I was simply too green back then not to be thrown by the formal gambit of the slow descent—pretty sure I got all huffy about Mifune's apparent protagonist having been abandoned for what idiotically struck me as rote detective work. What can I say, I was…
I'm too sleepy to go into all the myriad reasons this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Kurosawa's filmmaking is so transcendent it seems weak to say it's "ahead of its time," and yet that's exactly what it is in scenes like the final one, with both characters being alternately seen through their reflections, sharing the same space, never really separate. The claustrophobic and almost unbearably tense first act, the incredibly immediate train sequence, the detailed and gripping investigation, the slow descent into the expressionistic and heartbreaking "hell" of the city's poor neighborhoods, the pink smoke...! I know he made more masterpieces than practically anybody else but why this isn't widely considered Kurosawa's best I haven't a clue.
Story : 8.8/10
Production : 8.3/10
Overall : 8.03/10
I find it extremely interesting that a film called High and Low (and one that so beautifully captures the symbolism behind those two words) would be filmed in such a unique aspect ratio. The choice to use 2.35 : 1 shows off a lot of things easily but none of them are high or low. Also, I haven't familiarized myself with this "Tohoscope" process yet but it certainly added an interesting element to the entire film.
Another thing I found engrossing was the way Akira Kurosawa switched his protagonists throughout the film. In the opening act we're seeing the world through the eyes of King Gondo, played wonderfully by…
Mind completely blown.
Never has a film further exceeded my expectations.
I fucking love this.
I bought this movie not even really knowing what it was about. All I knew for sure was that it was directed by Akira Kurosawa and it starred Toshirô Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai. That is all I needed to know to want to own this movie even though it was apparent it had nothing to do with samurai.
The film itself amazed me. The way each scene is structured, framed and acted out I found incredible. There is no actor wasted at any given moment in this film. You can tell what each one is thinking, feeling or even what their social class is with no words spoken. It's not always by facial expression either, just by the way their sitting, standing or who they won't look directly at.
Simply put it's one of those great films everyone needs to see at least once. A film you just sit there and appreciate how each moment was put together.
My sixth Kurosawa, and my favorite (probably). I've always loved these kinds of shows, with the cops trying to figure out who did it, why, etc. Shows like Flashpoint or CSI. It seems they took a lot of inspiration from this. This film is so lively and full of emotions. It builds great tension, and it had a very intriguing plot. Toshiro Mifune gives another great performance, and so did the police captain and the bad guy.
Probably one of the most 'entertaining' films I have ever seen, and definitely Kurosawa's best. The structure of this film is simply amazing - from the play-like first act which is intense and claustrophobic ending with the thrilling train sequence, and then act two which is a suspenseful police procedural as the clues slowly comes together and the culprit is figured out, and then finally the magnificent third act with the unforgettable sequence in an alley filled with unconscious druggies - such a raw sequence that it made me feel sick. Top it all off with some biting social commentary on class hierarchy, and you get one of the best films of all time.
WARNING! This review contains a very mild plot spoiler. I think I have kept it vague enough to not merit using the formal spoiler tag, but if you're the sort of person who insists on going into a film completely cold, please stop reading.
This is probably going to be my last Kurosawa for a while, so here are my general thoughts on his oeuvre: his films live or die in the editing room. I don't question that he is a great director, because in this as in his other films, the framing, camera movements and composition of scenes is as immaculate as ever. The trouble is, although it is of industrial significance, I humbly submit that Kurosawa's desire to…
High and Low is one of Akira Kurosawa’s greatest films, but what’s unique about it is that it doesn’t focus on samurai. Like Ikiru, it takes place in modern day (here, the early 60s), focusing on a millionaire shoemaker whose ethics are tested when he’s suddenly thrust into the midst of a kidnapping. When his son’s friend is kidnapped, Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) must decide whether to pay a hefty ransom or let the kidnapper kill the child. The problem is: Gondo can’t pay a ransom without plummeting into debt, since he just spent virtually all his money in a business deal.
The first (and arguably stronger) half of High and Low pits moral belief versus financial struggles. For the…
The first hour of this film is absolutely perfect and utterly engrossing. My jaw literally dropped upon realization that the entire hour had just been scenes of people talking in the same room, and never for once did a moment of boredom set in. Brilliant acting, pacing, camerawork, and masterful directing by Akira Kurosawa. High and Low is one of the best police procedural/crime drama films I've ever seen, with a final shot that's as haunting as any in the history of cinema.
I picked up High and Low at the library without knowing what I was getting into. It's an incredibly interesting crime film that switches who the focus is on. As a viewer we get to see through the eyes of the rich and the poor as policemen work to uncover the criminal behind the kidnapping of a young boy.
One of the most interesting aspects of the visuals was the camera work. The tension was built up so well that many scenes felt like an ongoing act of a play even though I could see cuts and movement from the camera. Everything was so fluid and well-performed. It's not just a typical procedural, but there's comments on class and wealth, and even morality.
There's a lot to unpack here, so just watch it yourself.
This film felt way less than 143 minutes. I know that's probably said a lot, but I think that phrase is at its most accurate here. It's a gripping mystery while also critiquing Japan's the class struggle in Japan. And that last shot...wow. It just left me in shocked silence.
Really liked this a lot. May be my breakthrough with Kurosawa? We'll see.
My first Kurosawa film XD
This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
Unranked, the best endings of all time.