Undoubtedly the finest local news coverage comes in times of adverse weather. Back in North Carolina, hurricane season was marked by intrepid meteorologists standing at seventy-degree angles, screaming into microphones as their windbreakers practically sent them into flight. Today, I watched in bewilderment as an anchor pointed out to me an icicle on a stop sign, and got paid to do so. Was this icicle going to keep me from seeing Rashomon tonight? My bones chilled to match its temperature.
According to some statistic I read once from some study or something, Portland, Oregon gets 222 days of measurable rainfall each year. The temperature has been teetering between the teens and twenties for the past three weeks, leaving us Portlandians in a perpetual anticipation of building hipster snowmen and cross-country skiing down sidewalks.
When we awoke this morning, however, it was not to white snow, but black ice. Through some celestial oversight, we’d been mistakenly given weeks of beautiful (albeit chilly) weather, so we’re naturally being punished for it with detoured highways and deadly driving conditions. “Bridgetown ices before Roadtown,” I suppose.
But neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet, nor ice of black stays these cinephiles from the screening of Janus Films’s 35mm restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon! Having extended an open invitation to our listeners to join us, Ryan and I donned our warmest attire, left the safety of our homes, and headed aweather to weather the weather. Without incident, we arrived (joined by our friends and followers) at the swank and cozy Northwest Film Center, escaping to comfort and cinema.
For what ensued, I was honestly not prepared. I am compelled to say that I have seen Rashomon for the first time tonight, as this transfer has wholly made any previous viewings obsolete. I wriggled in my seat, clasped my hands over my mouth, nudged the people beside me. Kurosawa’s masterful camerawork twisted and turned, giving me a spherical understanding of the forest around, above, and beneath me…and in its pristine restoration, I was captured. I hung on every line of dialogue, thought along with every lingering, contemplative stare, and hid in the leaves in terror during each recount of swordplay. I realized that this viewing had become an unexpectedly emotional experience. Rashomon was one of the first half-dozen Criterion films I saw, and to come full-circle with the collection and return to its genesis with such newness, I was reminded not only of why I love the Criterion Collection, but why I love film. Listeners, if you live in or around any of these fine cities, I implore you not to pass up this opportunity! Truly, my brazen prediction of the future of this film was made staring just as much into a wishing well as into a crystal ball.
After the showing, we braved the invisible treachery, sliding down the street and into a coffee shop. 5/6 of us clad in thick-rimmed eyeglasses, we dove into the nerdiest of film discussions. As we shared our favorite scenes and shots in an awestruck language, I was pleased to discover that my delight was universal. Leaving slightly before the shop closed, we went our separate ways, and (as far as I know) made it safely back to our homes.
Thank you so much to Tyler, Ian, Charmaine, and Lesley for joining us tonight. In the past 48 hours, our little podcast has seen more ceremony and celebration than it has since it’s inception. I am honored and humbled, and couldn’t sleep tonight without expressing my gratitude to everyone who has accompanied us on our journey.