I had to rest my eyes from the computer screen so decided to take a break and watch a DVD I received at Christmas, but hadn't yet had the time to watch, Kurosawa's 'Red Beard'. Apart from it being lovely just to take a break and relax, the film was utterly wonderful. I don't think I've ever seen a film that had me in tears from the tragic stories one minute then laughing like an idiot the very next. And not laughing because of comedy necessarily, but just at the joyous bits.
It really is remarkable, Kurosawa, yet again, doesn't disappoint. As Alex Cox explains on the DVD extra, 'Red Beard' was the last of Kurosawa's recognised greats (1965), pretty much until 'Kagemusha' in 1980. I don't agree with Cox when he suggests the film reveals Kurosawa's sexism though. The female characters from this film are not unlikeable, they do have character, and despite what he says, not all the patients at the clinic (around which the film is centred) are female - two of the main patient-characters are male. The female characters are memorable and dominate parts of the film. Seek this film out if you can, but don't expect another 'Seven Samurai'. There's one fight sequence (brilliantly done, of course) in the entire two hours fifty-two minutes. A very positive film whose message seems to say that goodness of being can get results.