Movies I’ve Recently Seen: The Graduate, Samurai Rebellion, Boudu Saved from Drowning, & Knightriders

A few more movies that I’ve seen recently.

The Graduate (1967), FilmStruck

I’ve seen this classic romantic comedy many times, but this recent viewing brought me new respect for the picture. The revolutionary staging and camerawork wasn’t just art for art’s sake; it sets the mood and heightens the characters. Consider the opening credits, with Ben (Dustin Hoffman in his breakthrough role) standing on an airport’s moving walkway while others pass him by. That tells you a lot about this young man. And as I get older, I feel far more empathy for the film’s villainess, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bankcroft).

A- Samurai Rebellion (1967), Pacific Film Archive

You’d expect Masaki Kobayashid, the political radical of post-war Japanese cinema, to make a movie called Samurai Rebellion. His films, including the great Harakiri, take a very negative view of the samurai code of complete obedience. Toshiro Mifune stars as a warrior who can’t take it anymore after his son is ordered to give up his beloved wife. A bit slow in the first half, but powerful in the second, which includes some terrific swordplay. This film will screen again August 30.

Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), FilmStruck

I finally got around to seeing Jean Renoir’s famous class satire. It’s very funny at times, but it suffers from many early talkie problems: a lack of atmosphere, long sequences without any kind of sound, and bad editing. Homeless Boudu (the wonderful Michel Simon) throws himself into the river, and is saved by a comfortably middleclass bookseller. The tramp (and yes, his movements occasionally seem Chaplinesque) moves in with his rescuer, refuses to act like a civilized human being, and turns the household upside-down.

Knightriders, (1981), Vudu

The Renaissance Faire was the central part of my life when this movie came out, and yet, I didn’t see this movie about a sort of traveling Ren Faire until last night. I probably skipped it because someone warned me that it stinks. The concept: A group of misfits go from town to town, putting on jousting tournaments using motorcycles instead of horses. None of the characters are interesting, believable, or even just entertaining. There’s supposed to be some sort of pure idealism in this chosen lifestyle, but it’s never explained. And with all those knightly helmets, you can’t tell who’s who in the jousts. At 141 minutes, it’s way too long.