IKIRU (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) Rating: NNNN
Ikiru represents the other Kurosawa, and, in the 50s, the more important side of the director -- his liberal-humanist impulses. Shifts in critical fashion have turned our interest to the great samurai films of the same period, but we neglect these at the price of a full picture of the director's sensibility. Takashi Shimura, Kurosawa's other great star of the era -- he had the Yul Brynner role in The Seven Samurai -- plays a civil servant who's spent his life doing as little as possible outside the parameters of the bureaucracy, only to discover that he's dying. At that moment, he decides to do something not required by his job. The climactic scene of Shimura in the rain is one of the great moments of the cinema.
These two screenings are part of a Kurosawa mini-series that also includes The Hidden Fortress (January 24), a new print of Ran (January 31), and the director's great early noir, Stray Dog (January 25). (Cinematheque Ontario, January 26 and 27)