Sundays at Rest: The Movies I’ve Bought from Amazon: The Seven Samurai


I’m been meaning to get this Series of movie posts started for while but with Corona Virus/Wuhan Virus panic in place it seems the best time to start recommending movies to buy and watch at home that perhaps folks have not seen.


Common sense tells you that a movie that runs over three hours and twenty minutes would have a slow moment or two that you can or want to take your eyes off the screen.

However that is only common sense if you’ve never watched the Seven Samurai.

There is not a shot, not a performance and not a line not even a glance in the picture that is wasted. Everything plays to the story. It’s everything that a movie is supposed to me.

If you are firm in the quite rational belief that The Godfather or Casablanca or Gone With the Wind or Citizen Cane is the greatest movie ever made nothing will challenge it more than watching this movie.

In theory the movie is about Seven Samurai who are hired come to save a poor village from bandits.

The reality is it’s really about how the process of doing so saves them. I find it one of the most Catholic movies I’ve ever seen. It’s all about responsibility, sacrifice and being one brother’s keeper and the costs that come from it.

In the beginning we see the bandits arriving at the village and noting that the barley harvest has not yet taken place and deciding to come back later when it does. The villagers frustrated by the cycle that all of their labor going to feed others without recompense look for a solution. The old man of the villege suggesting hiring Samurai. When they insist they have nothing to offer expect for food he replies “Find Hungry Samurai”.

Thus begins the 1st of three distinct phases of the picture

  1. The quest to find Samurai
  2. The preparing of the village
  3. The Actual Battle

For the modern viewer ignorant of history the culture shock of the caste system whereby a Samurai has the authority to kill and the villager is nothing and where rice is a currency in itself is striking, but this group of poor farmers attempt to approach Samurai who consider themselves far above them is really something. Eventually they get lucky when they encounter Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) a wandering rōnin, (masterless samauri) who saves a young boy taken hostage by a bandit who considers their problem and agrees to help, they also get in the bargain the young and inexperienced Katsushirō (Isao Kimura) who, impressed by Kambei’s rescue of the child begs to be his disciple. Meanwhile Kikuchiyo also impressed by Kambei’s ( Toshirô Mifune ) actions starts shadowing them .

This entire sequence of Kambei attempting to find and recruit men to go on this quest that offers no glory or reward could easily stand alone as a movie in its own right. In fact if this picture was made in 2014 instead of 1954 it would likely have without a doubt been a trilogy and a whole franchise. Eventually Kambei recruits an old friend Shichirōji ( Daisuke Katô ), Gorobei ( Yoshio Inaba) who is fascinated by Kambei, Heihachi ( Minoru Chiaki) whose real skill is morale rather than the sword ; and Kyūzō ( Seiji Miyaguchi ) the master swordsman interested only his his craft.

These six (followed by Kikuchiyo ) head to the village where the 2nd part of the movie begins. The interaction between the villagers and the Samurai, the preparation for the attack and the bonding of them as a team and dramatic contrast as the villagers deal with both their fear of the Samurai and the sacrifices that they come to realize this entails. There is also the drama of Rikichi one of the farmers who went to recruit the Samurai who has a painful history unknown to them.  It is also a time of comic relief provided mainly by Kikuchiyo & Heihachi who never passes up a chance to needle him.

The climax of this idylic scene comes shortly after the encounter between Katsushirō and Shino ( Keiko Tsushima ) whose father Manzo ( Kamatari Fujiwara ) has disguised as a boy to hide her from the Samurai he fears. They spot three scouts for the bandits coming to spy on the village and the transition to the final phase of the movie, The Battle, begins.

The initial repulse of the 1st attack fills the villagers with confidence that they will be left alone for easier pickings but when they discover that the bandits are in worse shape than them and need to conquer or starve comes the realization that it is a battle to the end. Here we see the real costs of war as the villagers and the samurai both take losses up to the climax.

Ironically director Akira Kurosawa was constantly going over budget and Toho films tried to kill the project repeatedly. Kurosawa who wrote as well as Directed the picture however reasoned that the investment in the picture had been so great that they were unlikely to let it die and successfully argued fought for its completion.

While the movie was a success the critics in Japan were not as impressed but upon foreign release it reaped rewards and directors far and wide would be inspired by this storytelling. The film would be remade in the US as the Magnificent Seven replacing samurai with gunfighters with Mexico as a setting over Japan but the reach of this film, it’s cinematography is perfect, the performances (particularly Mifune & Shimura ) are outstanding and complement some of the best writing and storytelling you will see in a movie.

Social Isolation from the Corona / Wuhan Virus might not be pleasant, but if it means that you and millions others will discover this classic it will certainly not be wasted.

Review: The Two Popes

By John Ruberry

“I’m not familiar with this part of the garden,” Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) tells Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as they enter an area overrun by brush and deadwood in The Two Popes. Benedict then asks the Argentinian, “Which way?”

That garden, at the Vatican’s Palace of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, could rightly be called Benedict’s garden, as he was the Pope. Yet Benedict asks the man who ends up as his successor, Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, for direction. Oops, I mean directions.

Clearly the scriptwriters and the director of The Two Popes favor the liberal leadership under Francis–the garden scene neatly ties up that sentiment in a bow.

Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio decries inequality, repeated images of ugly walls are shown.

The Two Popes is largely fictionalized story centered on the theological divide between the 265th and the 266th pontiffs. After a limited theatrical release, including a showing at the Chicago International Film Festival, which was sold out, preventing Mrs. Marathon Pundit from seeing it, the film debuted Friday on Netflix. The Two Popes is worth seeing, whether you are a Catholic or not, or a believer or not. The Welshmen in the lead roles, Hopkins and Pryce, provide superb performances. Of course Hopkins’ career has been justifiably rewarded, including gaining four Academy Award nominations, and winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly, despite stellar work in such movies as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Pryce has never been honored with an Academy Award nomination. He deserves it for his performance as Francis, but my guess is that the Academy will overlook Pryce again.

The interplay–and the arguing–is what keeps The Two Popes going.

As for the fiction, there is plenty of it here. There were no long meetings between Benedict and Bergoglio; the catalyst for their movie summit was an offer of resignation from the cardinal, which is harshly rejected as a challenge to Benedict’s authority. The future Pope Francis turned 75 in 2011, it is customary for archbishops to retire at that age. It can be assumed that the pair never discussed the Beatles or their Abbey Road album. And it’s quite likely that Benedict’s favorite television show is not Kommisar Rex, an Austrian detective program where a German shepherd solves crimes. This sidetrack is probably a sly reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s long term as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under John Paul II, where he picked up the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

There are numerous flashback scenes involving Francis, including his early romance, his call to the priesthood, his muddled legacy from Argentina’s “Dirty War,” his rise, then fall, and his rise again within the Argentine Catholic Church. 

In the garden walk scene, Bergoglio condemns Benedict’s handling of the pedophile crisis within the priesthood, which included confession of the guilty–he calls it “magic words.” Benedict’s retort is harsh and telling, “Magic words, is that how you describe the sacrament?”

The Two Popes gives viewers plenty to think about. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Entertainment under the fedora, False Whovian Hope, Davis’ Obama plan revealed, “respectable” Lesbian Porn returns, A Clinton Fantasy Departs and the SJW Ghostbusters aneurysm

Apparently all the hope among fans that Doctor Who would adopt a course correction after a year off was false, the series is back next year with both Chibnall and Jodie Whitaker.

The realities on the ground do not matter. No amount of actual failure can compel the BBC to allow the 1st Woman Doctor and most woke Doctor in history to be seen as a failure, Sort of like Barack Obama.


Speaking of Obama & Doctor Who you might remember that in Russell T Davies last episode for Doctor Who his plot suggested that Barack Obama had a plan to fix the economy that was interrupted by the Master taking over the world. After the latest jobs report we now know that the plan apparently was to have Donald Trump follow him in office and fix it.


More TV apparently the L Word is back. I’m slightly surprised. The show’s primary draw was to provide a way for men to openly watch lesbian porn, even with their wives, while pretending they were not. But with porn and particularly lesbian porn now so mainstreamed that you can find it anywhere if you want it I don’t see the point.


I remember back in the Bush years the West Wing was liberals wet dream about having the White House when they couldn’t win it in real life. Madam Secretary was the modern counterpart where they could have a pretend Hillary Clinton who was honest and competent and now they have finished the series with their pretend Clinton being elected president.

Alas Madam Secretary never was embraced as the West Wing was. Perhaps is more of the left dived into that fantasy they would not be acting so insane now over Trump in real life.


Finally I was going to close with a bit about Clint Eastwood’s new Film Richard Jewell which opens this week but this trailer for the Ghostbusters Afterlife movie….

…a sequel to the Original Ghostbusters movies as opposed to the woke flop reboot, has got the woke brigades in an uproar. Here is a typical tweet and my response:

This may or may not be a movie I end up liking but I can sure tell you one thing, I love the way it’s driving the left apeshit.

Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary offers lessons for misguided millennials

Blogger next to Berlin Wall slab at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2018

By John Ruberry

Saturday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most profound events of the 20th century, the fall of the Berlin Wall. What began as a bureaucratic slip became a people power moment as oppressed East Germans stormed the wall checkpoints and with the help of West Berliners, literally began hacking away on what Winston Churchill called “the wall of shame.”

It was also a wall of failure. The smartest and most gifted people of communist East Germany were more likely to seek freedom and prosperity in the West. The brain drain threatened the stability of East Germany, so after receiving permission from his fellow dictator, the USSR’s Nikita Krushchev, Walter Ulbricht ordered construction of the wall in the summer of 1961.

Just a few days ago Dennis Prager explained on his show that there is a difference between a dictatorship and a totalitarian state. Augosto Pinochet’s Chile was a brutal nation in the 1970s, but if you didn’t like it, you could leave Chile. Not so in the USSR, until its final days, where my wife was born, or in the absurdly-named German Democratic Republic. East Germans who tried to escape to West Berlin would have to conquer not just the wall, but also beds of nails, attack dogs, and barbed wire, as well as avoid sharpshooters in watch towers. The number of people killed attempting to escape in the 28-year existence of the wall is disputed–about 200 is a common estimate.

Of growing up in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mrs. Marathon Pundit told me this morning when I was discussing this post, “We were slaves, really.”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released last week shows that over one-third of millennials approve of communism, which betrays the failure of our schools and universities that seem much more interested promoting the 56 genders and waving their fingers at guys like me over “white privilege.” Oh, the founders of the communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were white dudes. As were the earliest communists in power, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All five of them came from middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had white privilege.

OK, millennials!

The lessons of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the evils of Nazism obviously should never be forgotten. But what is overlooked by schools and society are the murderous regimes of Stalin (20 million killed, maybe more), Mao Zedong (65 million killed, maybe more). and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (1.5 million killed and perhaps more, roughly 20 percent of that nation’s population).

Another 30th anniversary involving a repressive communist regime passed this summer–the Tianammen Square protests in China that ended in the slaughter of pro-democracy activists. For 24 straight weeks there have been pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. The more things change…

Ulbricht and his successors’ East Germany didn’t have the high death count, but it excelled in mental torture. Its KGB was the Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, whose goal was to “know everything about everyone.” Two movies are essential viewing for millennials–actually for everyone–to learn more about East Germany. Both of them are available on Netflix, Karl Marx City, a documentary, and The Lives of Others, an Academy Award winner for Best International Feature Film. Fittingly, The Lives of Others is set in the year 1984.

Apologists for communism regularly point out that the reason these Marxist regimes failed is that the wrong people were in charge and “real communism” has never been tried. It is they who are wrong. People in power, for the most part, have one thing in common. They want even more power.

There are exceptions of course. King George III asked an American what George Washington would do now that he had defeated the British Empire. When told that the general would return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Is that lesson being taught in many American schools? I doubt it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Sodom and Gomorrah 1962 Where’s the Sodomy?

Today I watched the 1962 Movie Sodom & Gomorrah staring Stewart Granger, Pier Angeli and Stanley Baker and noticed something that was rather amazing to me.

The movie is pretty good, a great battle scene a few excellent subplots and as you might guess a big finish. As as you might guess there are some liberties taken, the famous exchange between Abraham and God becomes an exchange between the imprisoned Lot and the two angels. Instead of only Lot and his daughters hundreds of Hebrews escape with him. This type of thing is not much of a surprise but there is one big thing missing.

There is plenty of licentiousness, torture, fornication and even a hint of lesbianism, but not a hint of the one thing that Sodom is known for: Sodomy.

Now in fairness this movie was made in 1962 and I would not expect a biblical epic of the time to do a whole lot with the subject, but just as the lesbianism was implied in the form of the queen and her “favorites” you might have thought at a movie about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would at least give the slightest him of what was going on in there.

And of course the movie ended with Lot’s wife (a 2nd wife who was once of Sodom) turned to salt for looking back and no hint that the next event in the bible was his two daughters getting him dead drunk and sleeping with him because there was in their mind no prospect of any other men around. Of course with hundreds of men escaping that whole rationale is out the window.

Now in an age when the Bible was itself still well known perhaps it wasn’t considered necessary to bother with this stuff, it was only a movie and people understood that liberties might be taken.

But if it was me, if I was going to make a movie like there would be at least some hint as to the sin that destroyed Sodom

Given the history of the next 60 years I think such a warning might have been worthwhile.

Two line thoughts Under the Fedora: Comey Fallout, Popehat’s Point, Release Hunt, Animals being Animals and Good kids with Guns

The AG has ordered an investigation of the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Thanks to James Comey and the Obama administration almost nobody trusts the government to conduct an honest one.

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In a thread on Twitter Popehat made a pretty good point about incompetence in organization in order to counter those like me who assume Mr. Epstein was murdered. I must confess that any argument that presupposes the incompetence of those who work for government is a pretty strong one.

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While it might be the right financial decision for the shareholders for Universal to scarp the move Hunt I don’t like it. My thought was let the movie be released and let those who don’t want to see it not go to it, but then again my concern is the 1st amendment not profit here.

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There has been a lot of shock and snide comments about a lioness eating her newborn cubs in a zoo in Germany. I’m not shocked at animals acting like animals, I’m only shocked when supposedly civilized people do.

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Finally I noticed this piece at bearing arms

I know with God all things are possible but I’m not sure it includes the MSM promoting this story.