A trifle slow in the beginning, but once it gets going it's ten thousand katanas. I could easily see it again. Recommended. Already pre-ordered the DVD. More comments within, no spoilers beyond basic plot setup as shown in the trailer.
maegwynn and I went to the Colony to see 13 Assassins. I had mild reservations about it as I find the work of the director, Takashi Miike, hit or miss, but I'd heard positive advance remarks and for me, this is one of the best films of his I've seen.
13 Assassins is a Japanese period work involving an evil potential heir to the Shogunate and his being so bad that a group of samurai are recruited to secretly assassinate him. So basically I think of 13 Assassins as The Dirty Dozen meets Seven Samurai: people variably good and lost and professional and foolish and mercenary in nature working together against an unequivocally bad thing for in most cases personal loyalty, idealistic motives, or simply a morally to them good opportunity to do what they've trained their lives to do in a situation where it's vanishingly unlikely they'd ever get to and feeling as useful as spare drones in a beehive.
Some horribly gruesome behavior on screen establishing the bad man as behaving abominably even for samurai, which, given the amount of license granted to upper-class samurai, means we're in truly horrific territory. The fight scenes are impressive in scope. Oh, one particular trope that I've only ever seen once in a legendarily bad 80s fantasy movie and I can't believe Miike consciously went for that so I'll just assume it was coincidental.
Locally you can see this at the Colony Theatre in north Raleigh, and the Carolina Theatre in Durham. Runs this week and next week, so you have until at least May 26th to see it locally, possibly longer.
* The Beaver - Mel Gibson plays a business and family man who becomes clinically depressed and at the bottom of his spiral starts using a beaver puppet as a psychological distancing maneuver to successfully interact with the world, as in wearing it all the time and talking to everyone: his wife, his children, his corporation's board members... With Jodie Foster. I like Foster's work but I don't think I need to see Mel Gibson play crazy again.
* Potiche (Trophy Wife) - Housewife Catherine Deneuve's business-oriented husband has a heart attack and she takes over running the business, and successfully so to the audience's complete unsurprise. Ehhh...
The 13 Assassins trailer: