Video Picks Archive

June 21, 2000
This Week's Video Picks
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Reviews by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>

This week my picks are Topsy-Turvy (1999 - ) and Ran (1985 - ).

Mike Leigh goes the Shakespeare in Love route in the first film by telling a backstage story about the first production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. Jim Broadbent makes a brilliant starring turn as lyricist William Gilbert, whose sudden fascination with Japanese culture spawns a masterpiece that revives his career with composer Arthur Sullivan (James Corduner). Leigh is credited for the screenplay, but the dialogue was actually developed through improvisation with the actors. With this remarkable cast, the result is a wonderfully entertaining film. Topsy-Turvy also won Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup.
Full review from January 18, 2000

For the second film, the tables are turned. Kurosawa loved Shakespeare, and his last great samurai epic was based on King Lear. Lord Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) is getting old, so he splits his territory up between his three sons. The two older sons, whom he trusted most, declare war against each other. Only his youngest son, who was once disrespectful, stands by his father. Kurosawa was in his mid-70s when he directed Ran (Japanese for Chaos), but it is just as vibrant and exciting as his films from thirty years before. This film also had the benefit of gorgeous color photography (by Asakazu Nakai, who also photographed Kurosawa's other Shakespeare adaptation -- Throne of Blood). Ran also happened to win a Best Costume Design Oscar in 1986.
Full review of the 2000 re-issue from August 20, 2000


For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Topsy-Turvy (1999)
Ran (1985)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Topsy-Turvy (1999) -- VHS
Topsy-Turvy (1999) -- DVD
Topsy-Turvy: The Music Of Gilbert & Sullivan From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc
Ran (1985) - English subtitles -- VHS Widescreen
Ran (1985) -- DVD
King Lear, a play by William Shakespeare -- Hardcover
King Lear, a play by William Shakespeare -- Paperback
King Lear, a play by William Shakespeare -- Audio Casette (read by BBC Radio cast)


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