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  • Zatoichi's Flashing Sword 1964

    ★★½ Rewatched 26 Jan, 2014

    All over the place. Awkwardly bounces from comedy to melodrama to action. Fun (if ridiculous) opening leads to a super-cinematic establishing sequence, which gives way to a perfectly reasonable conflict between two business families. Can never really decide what it wants to be, and while a stealth action sequence acts as an engaging capper, it's too little too late.

  • Fight, Zatoichi, Fight 1964

    ★★★★ Watched 27 Jan, 2014

    This is more like it! Director Kenji Misumi, cinematographer Chishi Makiura, and composer Akira Ifukube return, and they make this a near-classic. The grab-bag tone and occasional television impulses of the last two films are gone. We're back to the theme of Ichi trying on a life outside his own itinerant yakuza circle, this time via an infant that comes into his care when a woman is killed by assassins who think they're stabbing Ichi. We know a settled life…

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  • The Guest 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Jan, 2014

    Like a gleeful satire based on an early Vertigo comics mini-series that never existed.

  • Frank 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 18 Jan, 2014

    Tough truth: as an artist, you're probably shit.

    End sequence captures the ineffable magic of creating music with kindred spirits.