~ ~ Movie Club ~ ~ [The Bad Sleep Well, watch by Friday]

~POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR The Bad Sleep Well IN THIS THREAD~

I’ve been thinking a movie club might be a fun way to spurn more discussion about movies we watch! This is an experiment so if you have suggestions feel free to voice them and we can always tweak as we go and try again another time :slight_smile: For the first one, I’ve compiled a short list of 5 options. Please vote by Monday, April 4th.

All of these movies are available on multiple platforms (at least in the US) and should be accessible through purchasing or rental platforms as well—none of them are that obscure. That being said, it’s difficult for me to see how available these are in different countries, so please say if something is too difficult to get ahold of, or at least take that into account when voting! (I tried to do a little mix of genres, and contexts—if you don’t like these options I’m sorry, just seemed the easiest way to start and other people should suggest what we watch next!)

After the movie is decided on Monday, we will all have until Friday, April 10th to watch the movie and then we can discuss here next weekend :slight_smile: how does that sound? :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Girlhood, Céline Sciamma
  • Love in the Afternoon, Billy Wilder
  • Red Road, Andrea Arnold
  • The Bad Sleep Well, Akira Kurosawa
  • This Is Not A Film, (Documentary) Jafar Panahi

0 voters

10 Likes

Cool, I am game. Thanks for thinking of it

3 Likes

argh, the only one I’ve already seen is winning! It’s a good one, though. These all look like great choices, for very different reasons.

2 Likes

well if it wins i look forward to the extra insight of your 2nd viewing #^___^#

Hey, get your votes in before tomorrow :slight_smile:

Also just wanted to say—I thought The Bad Sleep Well was available on Kanopy (a free streaming platform many people might have access to with a public library card) but it does not appear to be available on my Kanopy so I’m not sure if I was misinformed with out of date info or if it will be available on other Kanopy accounts… It is available on Criterion Channel… It does not appear to be available on itunes or amazon even for rental… >.> Ironically that was the one I was least worried about being accessible (most of the others are available on Kanopy, except Love in the Afternoon). Anyways I don’t know if people are concerned about this, if they feel comfortable with a criterion subscription/free trial or getting a hold of the movie by other means via the interwebs. It’s a movie one could’ve picked up at the library quite easily only a few weeks ago… Anyways if it proves impossible for anyone to get ahold of whichever movie we choose, DM me and I can share my criterion sub or we can figure something out. I don’t want anyone to feel excluded because of criterion subscription >.<

1 Like

Okay, The Bad Sleep Well directed by Akira Kurosawa is the pick !! I’m very excited to see this movie. Even if you didn’t vote or if you’ve seen this movie before or whatever please feel free to start dropping your takes or feelings on the movie starting this Friday after people have had a chance to watch it :slight_smile: Looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks!

4 Likes

Man, only the last one is available via Kanopy in New Zealand. Licencing, eh? :slightly_frowning_face:

Not complaining about the selections or wanting to sideline - keep on doing what you’re doing - just a bit of a grizzle about the state of things…

1 Like

reminder that the

[details="Summary"]
This text will be hidden
[/details]

tag is a thing, for spoilers :wink:

2 Likes

Yea I was not sure how to make sure whatever movie picks would be most accessible… Maybe there’s a more thorough way to make sure options are available to people but seems very difficult to cross-check different territories :confused:

And yes good tip @rbxbx feel free to post your thoughts before Friday with spoilers hidden—on Friday I was planning on updating the first post with a general spoiler warning for the thread :slight_smile:

1 Like

So what do people make of the title The Bad Sleep Well?
English isn’t my first language so perhaps I’m missing some common phrase it’s based on but I can’t figure out what it means and seeing the film didn’t help…

1 Like

I would guess the title is stating “the bad are sleeping well (untroubled by their actions)” perhaps opposed to the ‘good’ who might be up at night worried if they did the right thing… Just a stab in the dark.

3 Likes

Ohhh that makes perfect sense. Now I feel silly for not realizing…

2 Likes

Don’t feel silly! I don’t think it’s very obvious and I could be totally wrong.

1 Like

I hope some people had the chance to see the movie, I would love to hear more about what you thought of it @oot ! Definitely seems like @squim 's reading of the title is correct to me. Would be interesting if there were any japanese speakers/readers here who could shed more light on this, but from what I could gather from some googling it seems to imply in Japanese that the bad/evil sleep the best — as in, the more evil you are the better you sleep. The connection between sleep and death is interesting too, especially since this was inspired by Hamlet and there’s the famous speech in Hamlet “to sleep, perchance to dream…” which is about death and suicide. The evil are sleeping fine, while the loyal, the less evil, and the good, die. Also interesting the way revenge drives Nishi to do evil things, but still he’s not evil enough to get away with it—he falls in love, while the girl’s evil father drugs her without a second thought (puts her to sleep! also interesting that the Ophelia character here is one of the few that doesn’t commit suicide… the role of suicide here vs. in Hamlet is interesting to…)

Having mentioned Hamlet a couple times, I have to say I was surprised at how little this had to do with Hamlet—I went in thinking it was going to be a somewhat more straight adaptation, at least as straight as Ran was of King Lear. Did anyone see anything particularly interesting in the connection here with Hamlet? I’m not sure knowing that was the inspiration added a whole lot of insight for me, but I don’t have any sort of expertise on Hamlet or Shakespeare…

I have a lot of love for black and white movies, and digging back through Kurosawa’s early work these past couple weeks has been such a joy, especially with this film. He is well-regarded as a master of blocking and staging (placing the actors in the frame). Few filmmakers can tell a story simply with the framing as well as Kurosawa I think. I loved this shot opening the scene of the fateful reconnection between the couple and their moment to actually be in love. It divides them with the steel beam down the center of the frame, and we’re at a distance. By the end of this scene the camera is on the opposite side of this room and they kiss sitting on the beam—the division has been crossed, but this goodness is what dooms them too.

I also simply loved this shot earlier at the reveal of the abandoned factory:

There are too many examples of the wonderful staging here, and most of the youtube commentariat has discussed that at length, more than anything else about Kurosawa. Still, it’s true: there are many scenes you could watch without sound/subtitles and you can see how power shifts in the scene based on the blocking.

There’s much more to be said on the story, the themes, the characters… I don’t want to ramble too much, I look forward to hearing what people thought! Did y’all like the movie? I found it surprisingly engaging considering how much of a talking-in-rooms, explaining-the-conspiracy type of movie it was, but I think Kurosawa has that power… High and Low is one of my favorite movies and the first half of that takes place in one room basically :stuck_out_tongue: Speaking of which—how about that Toshiro Mifune ?! :heart_eyes:

1 Like

The idea of how suicide was portrayed is one of the things that stuck out to me too. I haven’t really experienced a “pure” portrayal of Hamlet so to me it all read as political more than anything.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence for example that all of the characters who were part of the corruption as well as the ones who let themselves be convinced into commiting suicide for the sake of their superiors were of the generation who would’ve taken part in the war, whereas every character disgusted with it was of the generation growing up with the war and its aftermath.

I don’t think anyone growing up outside of a fascist empire styling itself after samurai cultures of its past would be so willing to kill themselves on the request of a superior. There’s also the connection that the younger people having to live with the consequences of this war/corruption while those responsible sleep soundly (dead or alive).

I think Nishi’s interesting because he is so determined on his immediate revenge, yet his goals beyond that keep shifting. At first it’s personal revenge, then it’s for the sake of his lover, then society. He also seems to expect to become famous from this, that it’s this which drives him. Yet he’s not putting together some grand political action, he’s just exacting this tiny (in the grand scheme of things) revenge.

It’s pretty amusing to me that the critics of the time that I read didn’t like the ending, whereas I thought it was perfect for this film. A film like this cannot have a satisfying ending, it would ironically be very unsatisfying for it to have this out of tone happy ending.

1 Like

Enjoyed the film, but certainly one of Kurosawa’s lesser works. Thought there were some structural weaknesses that hobbled the film from the start–mainly the script (written by Kurosawa’s nephew). A lot of characters are introduced, but few are developed. Would have been nice to see Yoshiko (the daughter) and Tatsuo (brother) fleshed out more as characters.

The wedding scene sets up some expectations, and one of them is that Tatsuo is going to play a major part–which never happens. The follow up with the detective–also introduced at the climactic scene at the wedding–fizzles out midway through the movie. Also, thought the cornball stuff with the reporters running around was distracting. At least the reporters are brought back to bookend the film.

Toshiro Mifune is amazing, as always–the film would collapse without him. Which is why I have no idea why he wasn’t written into the film’s ending. Having his friend recount the staged murder struck me as clumsy exposition, and the actor that played the real Nishi wasn’t all that great. I think Kurosawa blew the chance to bring all the principal characters together in a final scene.

The film is good at developing the concept of personal identity–as Nishi’s character shifts and changes. His father abandoned him, but he decides to adopt the identity of avenging son–and later tender husband. Yoshiko transforms her identity starting as the dutiful daughter, and disabled woman, to the wife and an awakening understanding of her father. I loved the way the character of Wada is pulled back from the brink of suicide on the fumarole, and becomes a waking spirit. The real Nishi laments the loss of his identity at the end of the film.

Ultimately, it’s a bleak meditation on the systemic corruption of the political and corporate elite–unable to be pierced by the press, the justice system, family–or society as a whole. The lone hero (literally) crushed by the system, and the final scene make it clear that even if Nishi had succeeded, the corruption continues upward into unseen levels.

2 Likes

Was definitely expecting Tatsuo to play a larger role as well, at the wedding he is even presented as Nishi’s best friend I think. It never gets brought up again but at first I thought it was Tatsuo who brought him into the family…

The structure of it was interesting… starting with such a long wedding scene then going to the prosecutors offices and then spending most of the rest of the movie basically with Nishi only after we hear that some anonymous person has been feeding them info. It makes for a slowish start (although I loved the wedding scene) and a lopsided narrative arc that ends up somewhat unsatisfying because of what you pointed out about not having the principal characters together in a final scene. The journalists seem especially like a sloppy exposition tool that get discarded as soon as they’ve done their job. The US/noir version of this would’ve had a journalist or private eye as the hero unraveling it rather than for revenge, partially because of this exposition problem.

I wonder how different cultural ideas about narrative play into these things, or if it’s overfitting the data to make such a claim. It seems like despite Kurosawa’s interaction with “Western” narratives (both through the influence American cinema had on him and his various adaptations of written works such as Shakespeare) he has many more lopsided narratives than you would see from other filmmakers at this time. They seem to come off as more experimental to “Western” viewers and I think that’s part of why he’s so profoundly influential. But is the experiment in novelty or in a cultural synthesis? This type of question can quickly slip down a hole of cultural essentialism, but I think there could be something there… the answer seems to usually be “a little bit of both” with these sorts of things.

1 Like