Karsten has written 340 reviews for films during 2020.

  • Dreams

    Dreams

    ★★★★½

    Released during the late stages of his life, Dreams feels especially personal within Kurosawa's filmography. Through a series of charming and awe-inspiring vignettes exploring life, death, nature, and humanity, we get a real sense of the director's state of mind at this point in time, as he shares with us his loves, passions, fears, and anxieties. I can definitely see this growing on me even more as time goes on.

  • Red Beard

    Red Beard

    ★★★★

    A beautifully compassionate and empathetic look at poverty and the plight of those living under it. Toshiro Mifune turns in a stellar performance as the titular character (probably one of his best), and even with its 3 hour runtime, the film manages to keep a sharp pace so that it never feels as it's overstaying its welcome. Between this and Ikiru, I would love to see more from this more human side of Kurosawa.

  • Throne of Blood

    Throne of Blood

    ★★★★½

    Perhaps I didn't give this a fair shake when I originally watched it earlier this year. I'm not sure what about it clicked for me this time around, but I found the plot so much more engaging, and it made me really appreciate the tension and atmosphere a lot more, especially leading into that phenomenal climax. Yet another brilliant film from the master, Kurosawa; it's a shame I didn't recognize it sooner.

  • Ikiru

    Ikiru

    ★★★★★

    Viewing this again (on my brand new Criterion, no less) only further cements it as a masterpiece in my mind. Ikiru is Kurosawa at his most soulful, most poignant, and most life-affirming; a standout in an already phenomenal body of work.

  • Paprika

    Paprika

    ★★★★

    It's honestly quite sad knowing that this would be Satoshi Kon's final feature before his passing. Having gone through his work, I've really come to love his unique and inventive approach to animated storytelling. Fortunately, with Paprika, he leaves off on a stunning note, with a bold, vibrant and imaginative work of art.

  • Tokyo Godfathers

    Tokyo Godfathers

    ★★★★

    Funny, charming and genuinely heartwarming. This definitely deserves to be a staple of the holidays.

  • Millennium Actress

    Millennium Actress

    ★★★★

    Much like with Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress see's Satoshi Kon blurring the lines between fiction and reality, and while I don't think that aspect is as seamless and as cleverly employed as it is in Perfect Blue, it still makes for a pretty unique narrative, using a person's art to tell the story of their life. As a creative myself, I can't help but find that idea compelling.

  • Perfect Blue

    Perfect Blue

    ★★★★★

    I've been meaning to get around to this one for quite some time, and having now finally seen it, I wish I had gotten to it sooner because this is honestly a masterpiece. An ingenious piece of metafiction commenting on the nature of media, celebrity, and identity, all wrapped in a brilliantly constructed and gripping thriller plot that keeps you on edge and continually guessing, as we witness a young actress's descent into madness, and watch as the lines between…

  • Stagecoach

    Stagecoach

    ★★★★

    I can see why this one is considered a classic, not only because of the obvious influence it's had on so much of what came after it, but also because it's actually really good. The writing is excellent, the performances are all compelling and memorable, and the action sequences are tense and utterly exhilarating.

  • L'Atalante

    L'Atalante

    ★★★½

    I think this is a case of the whole being weaker than the sum of its parts. The performances are overall enjoyable, and there are some genuinely charming and captivating moments, such as with the underwater scene, but the central romance felt a kind of lacking, thus the reunion between the couple at the end doesn't resonate as much as it should, and that ultimately weighs it down a bit.

  • Taste of Cherry

    Taste of Cherry

    ★★★★

    Just the sort of meditative and poetic contemplation on death and existentialism that's right up my alley, made even better by Abbas Kiarostami’s unique and captivating approach to directing. I'll admit the ending left me feeling a bit cold, but the journey itself honestly feels far more rewarding the destination.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★½

    I feel like this material would've been far better suited for the stage, as it was originally intended, and I'll admit the ending left a bit more to be desire. That said, the impeccable dialogue and stellar performances make this worth while. It is truly a shame that we'll never know what Chadwick Boseman would've done next after this film, as he clearly still had way more to offer. But as far as final performances go, this certainly wasn't a bad note to go out on.