Tag Archives: Special Features

The Five Worst Movies of 2022

Every year has its share of flops and misfires, but 2022’s worst films were less misguided pieces of auteur filmmaking (though there were certainly instances of that) and more studio algorithms passing as entertainment. It’s not that big budget filmmaking hit a new low this year – Top Gun: Maverick and Everything Everywhere All at Once and others reinvigorated the theater experience week after week! – but too many felt hollow and formulaic. Plenty of films passed muster as being merely forgettable, but nevertheless, here are the five worst films I saw in 2022.

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Best TV Shows of 2022 So Far

Though I’ve done better this year at keeping up with television, notably absent from this list are some of the shows that tend to dominate the cultural conversation like Succession, Abbott Elementary, The Staircase, Hacks, Euphoria, Our Flag Means Death, Better Call Saul, and more. Nevertheless, here are some of the best series of the first half of the year.

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Best Movie Performances of 2022 So Far

Every year brings new, exciting performances from actors old and new, and 2022 has been no different in its first six months. Here are the best. *Note: I have not yet seen Elvis but, by all accounts, Austin Butler would belong on this list

Honorable Mentions:

  • Joel Kim Booster, Fire Island
  • Mia Goth, X
  • Justin H. Min, After Yang
  • Glen Powell, Top Gun: Maverick
  • Kali Reis, Catch the Fair One
  • Alexander Skarsgård, The Northman
  • Emma Thompson, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – One Wonderful Sunday

One Wonderful Sunday (Postwar Kurosawa 2)

  • Starring: Isao Numasaki, CHieko Nakakita

Grade: A

One Wonderful Sunday is a contemporary Kurosawa film set against postwar Japan as it was under allied occupation. It follows a young couple having a date on a tight budget of 35 yen between the two of them. Prior to the war, Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) and Masako (Chieko Nakakita) dreamed of opening their own café with affordable drinks and pastries. However, the war changed things. 

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – No Regrets for Our Youth

No Regrets for Our Youth (Postwar Kurosawa 1)

  • Starring: Sutsuko Hara, Denjirō Ōkōchi, Susumu Fujita, Haruko Sugimura

Grade: C

Following the end of World War II, while Japan transitioned to being under occupation by Allied forces, Kurosawa began exploring the state of his country and its role in the war. With No Regrets for Our Youth, he examined the sociopolitical climate at home as Japan’s militarism changed and the war raged. He accomplished this by drawing inspiration from the 1933 Takigawa Incident, in which a professor at Kyoto University was fired for perceived Marxist teachings. Yet Kurosawa uses his version of the Takigawa Incident as a jumping off point for a greater story he has to tell. 

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (Early Kurosawa 4)

  • Starring: Denjirô Ôkôchi, Susumu Fujita, Ken’ichi Enomoto, Masayuki, Mori

Grade: C

There’s something to the brevity of Kurosawa’s The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail that gives the film a sense of intimacy. Since it was filmed during WWII, mostly on one set, and with a runtime that doesn’t break an hour, it nearly comes across as a stage play more than a film. This is fitting given it’s an adaptation of a famed story that was popular in Noh and Kabuki theater. The story follows a Lord with his samurai retainers in 12th century Japan sneaking past enemy territory disguised as monks. Along the way, they must convince a brigade of guards that they are in fact monks and not a party for the Lord with a price on his head. 

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – Sanshiro Sugata Part Two

Sanshiro Sugata (Early Kurosawa 3)

  • Starring: Denjirô Ôkôchi, Susumu Fujita, Yukiko Todoroki, Ryûnosuke Tsukigata, Takashi Shimura

Grade: C

Akira Kurosawa’s first sequel was 1945’s Sanshiro Sugata Part Two, a continuation of his debut film about martial arts and the feud between jiu-jitsu and judo disciplines. Susumu Fujita reprises his role as Sanshiro, who is now a renowned judo expert still under the tutelage of Yano (Denjirô Ôkôchi), but the film’s main drama is slightly different than the first film. Now, Sanshiro experiences the weight of celebrity and has to contend with what the rise of judo has done to the state of Japanese martial arts while new and dangerous enemies emerge to challenge him. 

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – The Most Beautiful

The Most Beautiful (Early Kurosawa 2)

  • Starring: Takashi Shimura, Sôji Kiyokawa, Ichirô Sugai

Grade: C

The Most Beautiful is a wartime propaganda film about women working in an optics factory directed by Kurosawa in a pseudo documentary style. He was originally approached to make a film about Zero fighter pilots but, at that stage of the war, it wasn’t feasible to loan out Japanese military assets for the sake of a film shoot. He instead made The Most Beautiful, a film that stands as a unique outlier in his filmography. While it isn’t necessarily good, especially in comparison to the rest of Kurosawa’s work, The Most Beautiful does have some things going for it and is a curious example of an instance where a filmmaker may not fully believe in the material he’s creating. 

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