LFF review: Mifune – The Last Samurai

Mifune: The Last Samurai (dir. Steven Okazaki, 2016) ★★★

mifune

This well-assembled documentary on the life of actor Toshirô Mifune, the long-time Akira Kurosawa collaborator, should be a worthy introduction to one of Japanese cinema’s greatest icons, if a little light on more revelatory findings. With a softly-spoken narration by Keanu Reeves and talking heads from the likes of Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, as well as the sons of both Mifune and Kurosawa, Mifune offers a personal and professional tribute to an actor who reinvented the hero for a post-World War II age.

For more of this review, go to The Film Stage

#Venice2013: We Are The Best

We Are The Best (Vi Ar Bast) (dir. Lukas Moodysson) ★★

Lukas Moodysson’s new film is a welcome return to form, a charming near-coming of age tale of a rebellious teenage girl punk band in 1980s Stockholm.

Rather than the slightly wayward recent experimental features like Mammuth, and certainly far from the harrowing likes of the outstanding Lilya-4-ever, We Are The Best is more like his earlier breakthrough works like Show Me Love, full of expressive characters and bounding emotions.

13-year-olds Klara and Bobo complain about their their “fascist” siblings and “conservative” parents and decide that their best way of breaking away is to start their own punk band. That’s despite punk being apparently dead and, of course, not being able to play a note of music. They string in do-gooder Christian and classical guitarist Hedvig, to give their music some heft, cut their hair short and write songs about why their school teachers are wrong. One hilarious one is “Hate the Sport!”, with delirious lines like “Children in Africa are dying, and all you care about is the high-jump team!”

The three young actors – Mira Grosin, Mira Barkhammar and Liv LeMoyne – are stupendous as the riotous teens making their first marks on the world, and the films heady choice of punk music from 80s Sweden is a delight.

It’s funny and touching, and a different sort of coming of age drama – there’s only minor notes of a sexual awakening, or a growing sense of adult responsibility – instead it’s a warm-hearted view of growing a little older set in the playground of young life.

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