Akira Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata is an impressive debut for one of cinema’s greatest artists despite being more straightforward and slightly less existential and sub-textual than the majority of his career. The film follows Sanshiro Sugata, a jiu- jitsu pupil who becomes enamored with judo after a fight. He seeks out the maligned master of judo, a discipline seen as a cheap imitation of jiu-jitsu, to learn about the martial art. Along the way, tensions between a jiu-jitsu dojo and the judo master’s dojo rise and Sugata falls in love with the daughter of an aged jiu-jitsu master.
Take one part horror film, one part revenge thriller, a heavy dose of post-MeToo commentary, and a good helping of chemistry between two likable actors, and you have the perfect distillation of Fresh. First-time director Mimi Cave, working from a script by Lauryn Kahn, displays a nice confidence in the material, but lacks the discipline in a few key areas to make the film truly memorable. Nevertheless, Cave populates the film with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, two capable, charming actors as the leads, which goes a long way to making Fresh an enjoyable ride overall.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Sarita Choudhury
Kogonada’s sophomore feature further establishes the writer and director as a unique voice amongst new filmmakers. His 2017 debut, Columbus, explored how beauty can be found amongst the mundane, and After Yang contains similarly profound ideas. Specifically, the film is about preserving the memories of those we love after they’re gone. What will we remember about them? And what will they remember of us?