Movie Review – The Last Samurai

I’ll try to post movie reviews as I see a movie. Not because you care what I think, but because now that I have a blog, I can. Some movies I’ll see in the theater, most I won’t. I refuse to spend $8.50+ on stupid movies. Some movies I won’t spend any money on because I can’t stand the actors in the movie. Tom Cruise is one of those actors. I watched the Last Samurai last night with Dad because he really wanted to see it with me. So, I offer my review below, which is really more commentary. If you haven’t seen the movie, forgive me, I didn’t revisit the plot.

I have lots of questions that I need to do a lot more research on to be able to address any of the historical aspects of this film accurately, my comments are only on what I saw and not from any specific knowledge of the times.

Tom Cruise’s Character

I will say the following: it is common Hollywood practice to use the wrong, sinful and shameful treatment of the Indians at the hands of white America to illustrate the ongoing corruption of the United States specifically and the west generally. Hollywood returns to this point often. Not that I would ever ever ever approve or condone what was done to the Indians. We broke treaties and our word too frequently. We massacred, stole, raped and burned and it was wrong. The thing is, this is always used to illustrate is that Christians and our culture are bad and “peaceful” eastern-like spiritual cultures are good. That contrast is strong in the movie. The only movie I’ve seen a balance of good/bad is The Last of the Mohicans, I’ve tried to read the book and just never got through it for lots of silly reasons. So, all that to say, his character’s attendance at a massacre is unexeptional. Attendance at an Indian massacre is mandatory for all sympathetic fictional male characters from the old west Oh, and they have to cry a lot.

My other questions are about Japan and the events in the movie. Was that the same emperor who ruled over Japan during WWII? If so, and if that movie is even slightly historically correct and there ever was a character like Captain Algren, he helped set the stage for the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Thanks.) I wondered if that broken trade agreement between America and Japan led to encouraging and reinforcing the xenophobia of Japan. Their war crimes, like the Rape of Nanking, the horrors in the islands, the death marches, the prison camps, the torture, the “comfort women” in Korea, etc etc etc, are directly attributable to that character flaw. (The Japanese have still not even admitted that what they did was wrong. They still visit and honor the tombs of men whose list of war crimes is as long as any from Hitler, Amin and Milosevic. Stalin still leads that pack.)

I just questioned where all that nationalism was leading, where the impressionable emperor got influenced. Not that I think all Americans or all of American culture is great, in a lot of ways I certainly don’t, but in a lot of ways I do. I do wonder if the introduction of Christianity that always came with trade agreements and the missionaries that went along with them would have had a taming effect on the xenophobia of the Japanese. It certainly did a lot to temper and prepare the church for what happened in China during the Boxer Rebellion and then after during Mao’s reign of terror.

Then there is the question of cultural evils like honor suicide, saving face, etc. But that’s another discussion.

Beautiful movie, very moving, full of anti-Judeo-Christian rhetoric and Tom Cruise. I give it the following grades, not that you care, but because I can.

Overall: C-

Lovely to Look at: A (sets, scenery and costumes were fantastic to look at. )

Skin/Sexual Content: B- (No skin, some tension, one short kiss )

World View: F (Can I go lower?)

Cool Battle Scenes: B (these were fun)

Tom Cruise: B (Since he always plays himself only different, this is a better than average performance. He cries a lot and doesn’t look perfect so that’s helpful, big dark circles under his eyes, greasy hair help to sell it. Still he is essentially Tom Cruise.)

Okay, one last word on Mr. Cruise: I heard a radio interview with him and the local hollywood bootlicking disc jockeys while he was shilling for this movie. He rambled on and on about how he loved making a movie about such an honorable culture with such amazing values. (I’m screaming at my radio – WHAT ABOUT NANKING??? WHAT ABOUT THE DEATH MARCHES? WHAT ABOUT PEARL HARBOR?? WHAT HONOR????) Then the bootlicking kicked into high gear and the DJ schmoozed about Cruise being honorable, then Cruise started yammering on about how he’s always tried to live his life honorably and with values. (Now I’m screaming – WHAT ABOUT NICOLE AND YOUR KIDS??? IS ADULTERY HONORABLE??? WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIRST WIFE?????? ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!) And so, I can not in all good conscience pay to see a movie with this “actor” in it. I don’t listen to those dj’s anymore either.

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