We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Akira Kurosawa's "Red Beard" is assembled with the complexity and depth of a good l9th-century novel, and it is a pleasure, in a time of stylishly fragmented films, to watch a director taking the time to fully develop his characters.
It is also rather startling to find a director who values the positive human impulses; whose film considers not only violence and deception, but also sacrifice and healing. There has been so much despair in recent films: More than we realize, until "Red Beard" provides such a contrast. There is no such thing, perhaps, as the right time or the wrong time to see a film. But somehow, at the end of a decade that has seen so many things go wrong, "Red Beard" seems necessary.
It is a great and moving film, although its length and the number of its characters may put off those not familiar with Kurosawa. Unlike American directors, who are usually forced to work at the commercially feasible length of under two hours, Kurosawa takes the time to develop his story in a leisurely fashion, establishing a rhythm more in time with the way we really live.
His film is about a young doctor (Yuzo Kayama) who comes to a free public clinic, more or less against his will, to work under the famous old doctor Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune). The time is about 1825. Modern advances in medicine are just seeping into Japan, and the young doctor is proud of the advanced training he's received at Nagasaki. He wants to be the personal doctor for a rich family; public clinics repel him. For many days he even refuses to wear a uniform.