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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Classic Movie Double Feature - KAGEMUSHA and THE CONVERSATION

KAGEMUSHA (1980)
directed by Akira Kurosawa
written by Masato Ide and Akira Kurosawa

THE CONVERSATION (1974)
written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola


Note immediately where these films land in their respective directors filmographies. KAGEMUSHA comes near the end of Kurosawa's career and THE CONVERSATION toward the beginning of Coppola's. THE CONVERSATION is particularly noteworthy, sandwiched between THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II. However, the relative time between productions is quite short and Francis Ford Coppola (along with a post-STAR WARS George Lucas) produced both films (KAGEMUSHA supposedly more a financial arrangement on his behalf than an artistic one).

Both films deal with themes of duplicity and identity. The protagonists are both driven to madness by their manipulations. For each, Kagemusha and Harry Caul, there is drive to undo the sins of the past with the good work of the present. For each, there is an inevitability to their fates and their ultimate destruction is inescapable.

When the double in KAGEMUSHA is no longer useful, he is cast out and trapped by the war he helped instigate. When Harry Caul is no longer useful, he is cast out and trapped by the surveillance techniques he helped pioneer.

The visual style of these two films couldn't be more different. KAGEMUSHA has a theatrical style and Kurosawa often stages the action in tableau as opposed to the raw, nearly verite style of the visuals Coppola employs in THE CONVERSATION. Arguably, THE CONVERSATION is one of the most influential films ever in terms of sound and picture editing and it's unfair to compare it to the more understated ambitions of KAGEMUSHA.

Both filmmakers, however, play extensively with the use of color in the costume design. For example, compare the members of Shingen's war council to Harry Caul's colleagues in the party scene. Each character is dressed in a vibrant color as a shorthand for the audience. These visual tricks work at nearly a subliminal level, but do much of the heavy lifting of the character work in scenes where exposition is flying fast.

But in terms of narrative structure, both feature dream sequences that do a great deal of heavy lifting in informing the audience of Kagemusha and Caul's inner turmoil (and the demons that haunt them). Both dream sequences also foreshadow the denouement and ready the viewer for the downbeat endings they're in store for.

These films have more in common than simply greatness. They reveal the position of their respective filmmakers and offer a link between two masters at very different moments in their careers. KAGEMUSHA and THE CONVERSATION is an edifying double feature and a duo I'm eager to revisit.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Channel 2 Radio Episode 7

This was a fun episode to record. It's much looser than our previous episodes and the start of a new year of content.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Circulatory System

A really fun time on my home trails. Super good weather for this time of year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Final Stats

179 runs
1,333.8 miles
181 hours, 23 minutes
63,839 feet


Monday, December 29, 2014

Thoughts on the Approaching New Year

2015. New Year. New Rules.

Father time marches onward. I'm going to be a father soon. I will turn 32 in a month and a half. This is my window for taking my running to a new level.

I'm dedicated now to building myself as a runner to reckoned with will take all of the focus and discipline I can muster.

After an amazing summer, running nearly 200 miles a month (the lowest monthly mileage I would consider "serious"), I downshifted in September and October to avoid injury. November and December we earnest recovery periods with just 74 miles in November. December will be better with a long run on New Years Eve. Probably winding up around 125 for the month. January should be 150 and I want 200 in February.

March will see my first serious effort at a sub-3:00 marathon time.

The final long run before a month of hill work, cross training and recovery leading into the North Face Endurance Challenge DC. This race was my first marathon last June and I am returning to conquer it before moving on to longer distances.

No drinking until the finish line April 18. I need to cut sugar way down. More lean protein.

More cross training. Cycling and swimming and Yoga.

More morning runs. Waking up early when I don't want to and getting at it before everybody wakes up.

Be at my best.