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The Last Samurai

Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2003

Dave!When I travel, I take along my faithful iBook because it's small, rugged, and has great wireless range. When I get back home, I immediately switch back to my PowerBook G4 because it's easier to work on the bigger screen and the faster processor comes in handy for graphics work. Anyway, I was transferring some files off my iBook this morning and ran across an entry I made about The Last Samurai that didn't get posted...

The Last Samurai posters in a Tokyo subway.

The Last Samurai poster with Tom Cruise.

I wasn't planning on seeing The Last Samurai because I am just not a big Tom Cruise fan. He never seems to stop being Tom Cruise and get lost in the part he's playing, which kind of destroys the immersive experience of watching a movie for me. But when I was in Japan last week I kept seeing these beautiful posters for the film that didn't feature Tom Cruise at all. Then I started seeing these stunning commercials on beautiful high-definition Japanese television that got me thinking that this film might transcend Tom Cruise and actually be worth watching. So when I got back to the States, I managed to catch it in Minneapolis and was really glad I did.

A scene from The Last Samurai.

The Last Samurai is one of my favorite films of 2003.

I am rarely emotionally affected by a film... I can count on one hand the films that have moved me to the verge of tears (sappy love stories and hokey dramas just don't do it for me). Given that, you can imagine my complete shock that this would become one of them. And I am still trying to figure out just how that happened. Yes, the film is beautiful... the cinematography is breathtaking and I would gladly sit through 3 hours of it with not a single actor in the frame. Yes, the score is a wonder... the music in the film is a presence that will haunt you long after you leave the theater. Yes, the story is captivating... the samurai's efforts to preserve a way of life that had existed for centuries is good material. Yes, the acting is top-notch... if Ken Watanabe isn't nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant performance, then the award is as irrelevant as I had thought. And yes... Tom Cruise gives one of the best performances of his career (unlike many, I thought his work in Born on the 4th of July was self-indulgent and overly-acted). I can only guess that it is all these factors in concert that makes the movie so compelling.

A scene from The Last Samurai.

So do yourself a favor and see Tha Last Samurai in a really good theater. It will not be the same experience if you wait for the DVD.

Categories: Movies 2003Click To It: Permalink


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