The revered Japanese director Akira Kurosawa came into the world on this date, so here we go with:
Let’s just get some of the obvious matchups out of the way:
SUPER vs. Defendor: SUPER
SUPER vs. Kick-Ass: Kick-Ass
SUPER vs. Special: SUPER
I’ll let you figure out whether SUPER beats Ran or not, because some decisions a person just has to make on their own. Originally, I planned on putting Ran up against Throne of Blood, which is another Kurosawa film that was based on one of Shakespeare’s plays (King Lear and Macbeth, respectively). But, after sitting through Ran‘s nearly three-hour running time, I wanted to watch something a little less heavy. I looked at the stack of movies I picked up from the video store and simply wasn’t ready to take on Throne of Blood. So, you get SUPER instead.
Not that these don’t have anything in common. There’s plenty of blood-spraying violence in both of them, as well as some major dramatics. Also, a quote from each film struck me as being kind of similar:
Ran: Men prefer sorrow over joy… suffering over peace!
SUPER: Happy people are kind of arrogant.
Now, I don’t know if either of those are entirely true. What I do know is that these movies are on the depressing side. Ran pretty much is required to be since it’s based on a Shakespearean tragedy. With SUPER, I had trouble differentiating the dark comedic bits from the parts that seemed straight-up sad. And believe me, there is one part that crushed my spirits momentarily. It reminded me of those times as a kid when you’re joking around with sharp objects or the neighbor’s ill-tempered dog, and then somebody ends up with stitches. But worse.
I should add that there is a dangerous woman in both flicks. Ran has Lady Kaede, who orchestrates a very thorough revenge plot and licks blood off a guy’s neck that she sliced with a knife. SUPER gives you the homicidal superhero sidekick Boltie, who also does some slicing. Ellen Page plays Boltie. I used to think that Whip It! was her most adorable performance, but her work in SUPER had me beaming. (Probably because every guy wants a girlfriend who idolizes him, is psychopathic and wears a superhero outfit.)
Whether you’re more partial to Kurosawa or James Gunn (or neither), these are both entertaining movies in their own way. SUPER even has an uplifting message about doing good for others so they might do good as well. That may sound like Pay It Forward, but SUPER is better than that. (I think Ran‘s message is that if you have three children, two of them will betray you and leave your kingdom in ruins. Sound advice.)
Joan Crawford would’ve been 107 today, so maybe some of you out there would like to ponder this matchup:
You have Joan as a mother who toils selflessly for her ungrateful daughter in Mildred Pierce vs. Joan (played by Faye Dunaway) who terrorizes her daughter in Mommie Dearest. The latter film is based on a book written by Crawford’s adopted daughter about her abusive childhood. Not everyone agrees if the book is true or embellished, but it makes for an entertainingly disturbing movie. This is Christina Crawford discussing the book with Phil Donahue: