Yet another year with yet another update.
2012 version can be found here.
2013 version can be found here.
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…
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…
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.
Mind completely blown.
Never has a film further exceeded my expectations.
I fucking love this.
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 was quite excited to see this film, given the love for it from trusted friends, but when I realized that it was a crime film, and very much a police procedural, my heart sank a little. I love those types of films, but there are so many of them and I am so used to them that I couldn't imagine being blown away by one, even if it was from Kurosawa.
Remind me never to underestimate the Master again.
He tells the very simple story of a kidnapping.
If that's all you want, you are going to get one of the best police procedurals including one of the best scenes ever filmed where detectives provide their updates on the…
This radical adaptation of the comic strip Hi and Lois is in the running with Spider-Man 2 for best comic movie I've ever seen, at least until Ant-Man comes out.
The one problem I encounter with every Kurosawa movie I watch is that they're too damn long. Too drawn out for me. My favorite Kurosawa's so far are Ikuru and Yojimbo. I really like Sanjuro a lot - although since it's a sequel to Yojimbo it falls short in spectacle.
Saw High and Low three years ago. Didn't do anything for me. I was also half-assed watching it because I was suffering from Eastern cinema over-saturation - a region with a legion of classic pictures I've never been able to connect with. Eastern pictures generally leave me feeling hollow inside. I don't relate to the culture, the settings, or the humor, and most I've watched rely heavily on exposition dialogue…
Kurosawa is thorough in making sure that the audience is aware of what is happening in his films. Not every film of his seeks to answer the questions the story raises (Rashomon being the best example of his capacity for ambiguity), but if there is a process involved, or if the geography of a place is essential to the film, you will get more than enough direction as to what is happening. High and Low is a prime example of this. How do the police track down a man in a place that is teeming with millions of souls? The procedural element is detailed meticulously, and you can sense that Kurosawa is fascinated by how the police collect, assess, and…
Were the police officers the only characters in the entire movie to never be defined by class?
My favorite Kurosawa since I watched Ran three years ago, High and Low is tense, impeccably directed, and thematically dense. It's the subtlest film of his career (as I've seen,) and maybe the most fun, too.
Shakespeare + crime procedural
The tagline doesn't lie. High and Low is one of the best detective thrillers ever filmed (although it's still pretty far from 12 Angry Men). It's really exciting and tense to listen to the evidence in High and Low and to experience the solving of the case. Besides, not only has High and Low a very interesting story, but also great characters and morals. High and Low is not a typical Kurasawa film, but it's not far from Rashomon in the competition as his greatest movie, at least in my book. However, there are two main problems that prevented it from reaching my favorites: 1) It goes too slow at the beginning and takes its time to build, and 2) the performances are not very good, sometimes being distracting.
I could do without the part where all the investigators summarize what they learned following their assigned lead, but the gorgeous final act makes up for it. I love how the film repeatedly forces you to accept that the film isn't about the thing you thought it would be about.
Kurosawa's films really excel in meticulously constructing emotional scenes through content (writing) and form (compositions and blocking).
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 194/776 (25%)