A Question for the Readers #12: “…and Stay Out!!”

You don’t really review games and films on the side without amassing a sizable collection of both. As a rule, I typically keep a work around until I’ve experienced it in full. Once I have done so, I make a decision as to whether or not it’s worthy of remaining in my collection. If I decide it isn’t, that’s when I decide to place it up for sale; no need to keep total disappointment around, after all. Admittedly, I don’t have a cast-iron rule; for video games, it usually needs to get a passing grade for me to not want to sell it. I may sell old editions of a work if a compilation appears, but if I award it a passing grade, you can safely bet it’s still in my collection. Meanwhile, for films, I tend to only keep the ones I awarded (or would award) an 8/10. Every so often, however, I’ll come across a work that, for whatever reason, I just want out of my collection as soon as possible.

To be clear, this anecdote doesn’t concern instances in which I deliberately bought a stinker for the sake of bashing it. As such, you won’t see me mention films such as You’re Next or video games such as Ride to Hell: Retribution or Ninjabread Man. Instead, I’m talking about instances in which I was genuinely looking forward to experiencing a work, yet by the end, I wanted nothing more to do with it. Keep in mind that I don’t consider most of the following works bad per se; if I do, they have more redeeming qualities than the average effort on the tier in which I placed it (or would place it). Granted, the easiest way a work can accomplish this is by having a terrible ending. Despite this, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you’re interested in seeing these films or playing these games, your best bet is to skip to the next subject.

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Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

It is the middle of the sixteenth century in Japan, and a horde of bandits have descended from the mountains. Though they contemplate raiding the village, the chief decides to wait until after their harvest because they had attacked it recently. A farmer overhears the message and the villagers ask Gisaku, the village elder, what they should do. He tells them of a village that once hired samurai. As this village has since remained untouched by the bandits, he declares that they should follow their example. Due to the bandits’ merciless attacks, the village is on the brink of starvation, and they are out of options. With nothing substantial to offer, they will need to find samurai willing to work for a paltry reward.

After a brief period of fruitless searching, the group happens upon a wandering rōnin named Kambei. He immediately demonstrates his skill when he rescues a young boy who had been taken hostage by a thief. A young samurai by the name of Katsushirō then asks to become Kambei’s disciple while the villagers ask for his assistance. Though reluctant at first, he eventually agrees. Kambei then enlists the help of Shichirōji, an old friend of his whom he believed to be dead. From there, they recruit three more samurai, including the wily Gorobei, the rough, yet good-natured Heihachi, and the silent Kyūzō. They eventually welcome Katsushirō himself into the group despite his inexperience because time is of the essence. Shortly thereafter, a drunken man who fancies himself a samurai and claims to be named Kikuchiyo asks to be in the group. The six reluctantly accept him, and they march back to the village. Outnumbered, these seven samurai will need to do everything they can to ensure the farmers’ survival.

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Reel Life #21: A Simple Favor, The Bad Sleep Well, and Marketa Lazarová

Seeing as how last week was a dud with me not being able to recommend any of the films I saw, I decided to deviate from my usual pattern slightly by seeing a film that did not get 90% or more on Rotten Tomatoes. Just to make sure I would have at least one glowing recommendation, I made sure to see a classic Kurosawa film at home along with the one considered the best Czech film ever made. Surprisingly, only one got a passing grade. Try to guess which one it is! |Don’t you like a good underdog story?|

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