SAMURAI BANNERS (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1969)

Toshiro Mifune’s tragic role as sixteenth-century samurai Kansuke Yamamoto is the centerpiece of Hiroshi Inagaki’s finest film, the epic Furin kazan, from Yasushi Inoue’s 1955 novel, a reflection on modern Japan’s ambitious, self-deluding dreams of conquest—a point the film also makes, too glibly perhaps. Covering nearly twenty years, the convoluted narrative fits the contours of […]

MANHATTAN (Woody Allen, 1979)

While Zelig (1983) remains writer-director Woody Allen’s most highly analytical and brilliantly funny film, Manhattan, which was co-written by Marshall Brickman, is his most romantic and appealing one, and is equally hilarious—the closest cinema has come to Astaire & Rogers post-1930s. Visually, it is a dream of the city, gorgeously photographed in black and white […]