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Kurosawa + Noir = Perfect
A film noir in Japanese culture by Akira Kurosawa! What to say? WOW!!! Takashi Shimura-SAN teaching in movies and life Toshirô Mifune! Simply amazing!
In 1949, Kurosawa was still interested in post-war Japan, and the subtext in Stray Dog even becomes text, at one point. Toshirō Mifune plays a rookie police detective who gets his gun stolen and crushed by guilt when it is used in violent crimes, partners up with Takashi Shimura's older and wiser policeman to recover it before all its bullets are spent. Interestingly, the cop and the criminal share an origin story as well as a gun, but one chose law, the other, crime. That shared guilt is perhaps Japan's, a Japan at a crossroads between peace and violence, and the final showdown is really about a man facing his darker self, which he nevertheless has empathy for. Kurosawa even plays with mirroring in his camera work. Stray Dog manifests the lead's anxiety in three very clever ticking clocks. One is the seven bullets we know the crook might use. Another is the baseball game, which builds tension for the capture of a person of interest. And the most omnipresent of course is the heat wave, which adds extra pressure, only occasionally relieved by a rain storm, and that rain storm is a moment of madness that brings with it as much chaos as it does freedom. I half expected the gun to fall from the sky like it does in Magnolia.
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In 9 official lists
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This movie ranks #11 in Kinema Junpo's Top 200 Japanese Films
This movie ranks #27 in IMDb's Film-Noir Top 50
This movie ranks #47 in iCheckMovies's 1940s Top 100
This movie ranks #79 in Time Out’s The 100 Best Thrillers
This movie ranks #93 in Tom Vick's Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #175 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #231 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2500
This movie ranks #277 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #331 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films