Friday, 19 December 2008

Movies Seen: Stray Dog, Tsotsi, In the Heat of the Night

Ah, a veritable selection of goodly films! What a way to signal my return to movie rental mode. I really got these over the weekend, but being too busy to see them then, have been having extra busy weekdays lately, vis-a-vis movie watching.

Stray Dog

Yet another excellent Kurosawa flick. The 1949 movie has a very young Toshiro Mifune playing Murakami, a young police officer on the lookout for his stolen pistol, getting increasingly panicky and guilt ridden each time his pistol is found to be involved in a crime, such that he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown towards the end of the film. There to help and advise him is Takashi Shimura, playing an older wiser officer.

The interplay between the two main characters is enjoyable as always. They feed off each other, one aggressive, the other more experienced. Parallels are also drawn between the young officer and the gun's user, whom they discover have pretty similar profiles, and the question of what makes a man resort to crime is raised. All this within a sweltering Tokyo heatwave.

Like Kurosawa's High and Low, this film also deals with a painstaking police investigation, with officers following lead after lead to find what they want. The investigation however, only makes up the second half of High and Low, whereas here, it seems to take up the entire film.


A 2005 film written and directed by Gavin Hood about a gangster from the slums of Johannesburg, who's forced to take a hard look at his life, after a crime he commits results in unintended consequences. Graphically violent, well made but not for everyone, the movie forces people to sympathise with a criminal.

In the Heat of the Night

A 1967 film directed by Norman Jewison (Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar). Sidney Poitier plays Virgil Tibbs, a policemen who's forced to team up with a racist police force to solve a VIP's murder in a small town, inspite of the odds being piled against him. Another movie dealing with mostly a police investigation, with a look at the personal lives of the characters involved, only this time the main shadow overlooking the plot is racism. Good movie.

Based on a 1965 John Ball novel. John Ball's first novel in fact (and one that won him an award). He went on to write 6 sequels and a short story with the same leading character. The movie based on his first book went on to get two sequels of it's own and a T.V series.


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