If you type the words “Flick City” on my website, you’ll find various actors and filmmakers discussing films they love. Seven Samurai is a film that’s considered one of cinema’s finest works, and actor Tzi Ma (The Farewell) and director Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement) discuss why that film is also on the top of their list. Audio and transcripts are below:
The Farewell centers on Billi (Awkwafina), an Asian-American who travels to China after learning her grandmother (Shuzhen Zhao) is dying from cancer. Billi’s family, however, is keeping it a secret from the grandmother by pretending the family get together is for an impending marriage. Tzi Ma stars as Billi’s conflicted father who, although he has spent most of his life in America, must also adhere to the family’s wishes for secrecy. In theaters July 12, The Farewell currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Tzi Ma on Seven Samurai:
“I would have to pick Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. I can watch that all day long and every day of the week. Every time I look at that epic, I find something new. There is so much going on and it’s such a masterful piece of filmmaking. The cast is just phenomenal. Particularly for men, we really don’t credit the Asian men – their performances as much as we value others. So in that sense, Seven Samurai is on the top of my list.”
Avengement, directed by Jesse V. Johnson, centers on an escaped prisoner named Cain Burgess (Scott Adkins) who has a score to settle with his crime lord brother (Craig Fairbrass). The “state of grace” that Johnson refers to in describing Seven Samurai is an element which also makes Avengement a cut above the average action feature.
Director Jesse V. Johnson on Seven Samurai:
“I just need to be reminded of the love, the religion, the passion, the awe-inspiring lengths that you can go through to affect an audience with the succession of images that we create. And I go back to Seven Samurai and I watch that and it’s like ‘For God’s sake, that’s what it’s all about.’ This now makes sense. It reminds you that we’re doing something that aspires to a state of grace.”
“It’s an art form. It’s not just a business. It is actually a way to attain a state of grace that can endure decades and make people happy and entertain them. It’s very important to do that once in a while. When you get obsessed with (your) shooting schedule, the budget, you can forget there’s a script . . . when you watch something of that level. Of high art, with action scenes in it and incredible performances with moments that bring you to tears because of their incredible passion and care for the human spirit, then you realize it’s okay to struggle this much.”
Here’s the audio version of their answers, and I also provide a voiceover wrap to the proceedings:
You can watch Seven Samurai on The Criterion Channel or purchase the Blu-ray via Amazon (purchase links support CinemAddicts, the movie review podcast I co-host with Groupers filmmaker Anderson Cowan).