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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his lovely wife, the writer Emily L. Stephens, and their cat, Cooper. When not watching all the movies ever made or digging up stories about the Maine film scene, he can be found writing for the AV Club and elsewhere. The rest of the time, he's worrying about the Red Sox.

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Posted: January 25, 2016

Oxbow hosts film series featuring Japanese master director Kurosawa

Written by: Dennis Perkins
Japanese master director Kurosawa films screening at Oxbow

Oxbow hosts film series featuring Japanese master director Kurosawa Courtesy photo

There’s no single ideal movie-watching experience, but Portland’s Oxbow Blending & Bottling may have come close. Picture this: cozy bar setting, movie-themed beer and food (both locally made and authentic), all in service of the films of perhaps the greatest director in film history.

Pretty tantalizing, right?

Well, that’s the reality at Oxbow’s Kurosawa Movie Nights, the brainchild of Oxbow Blending & Bottling general manager and director of sales, Greg Jasgur, who instituted the series a few weeks ago, with a screening of Japanese master director Kurosawa’s 1948 drama, the appropriately alcohol-soaked buddy drama “Drunken Angel.” Following up with 1949’s “Stray Dog” and 1950’s seminal samurai drama “Rashomon,” the series continues on Wednesday with the director’s achingly beautiful story of a civil servant determined to do just one good thing before he dies, 1952’s “Ikiru.”

“We like to get people in to see who we are and what we do,” explains Jasgur of Oxbow’s unique roster of entertainment, adding, “Plus, we just like to throw parties.” And while the meditative, lovely heartbreaker that is “Ikiru” might be a more challenging choice for a party atmosphere, Jasgur, based on the enthusiastic response to Kurosawa Movie Night’s initial outings, is confident that Portlanders are ready for it.

“Ikiru is so beautiful,” Jasgur enthuses. “I’d only seen a few of Kurosawa’s films (I’m a neophyte film buff), but few movies get to me like this one. It’s so sad about being human, you know? It’s definitely a quiet movie, a movie about the acceptance of death, but I think our customers are up for it.”

Jasgur states that Oxbow is a great setting for this sort of intimate, artsy film (although, picking selections from Kurosawa’s filmography in chronological order, the next film, February 10th’s classic “The Seven Samurai” will provide more swordplay). “It’s definitely more bar than theater,” explains Jasgur. “We’ve got a big screen, a nice sound system, we turn out the lights—it’s a nice theater vibe. Plus, it helps that the movies are subtitled—talking is okay.”

Rounding out the Japanese experience, Oxbow serves two of its Maine-made, Japanese-style beers (Sasuga and Momoko) during the films. And they’ve invited the proprietors of Portland’s own Mami food truck to set up right outside during the screenings, supplying film fans with a wide selection of what Jasgur refers to as “authentic Japanese street food.” (Offerings include the likes of yakisoba, kushiyaki, onigiri, and a number of “Japanese hot dogs” which look absolutely delicious, even to a vegetarian like me.)

So for cinephiles, Japanophiles, Kurosawa fans, foodies, beer enthusiasts, and just lovers of a good time, Oxbow Blending & Bottling’s Kurosawa Movie Night – happening at 8 p.m. every Wednesday through the end of March – seems like a perfect winter destination, and a tasty new addition to Portland’s rich movie scene. Says Jasgur, “We have a couple of regulars who just moved here. They walked in and were really excited the move to a town where they do this kind of stuff.”

“Ikiru” will be showing at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Oxbow Blending & Bottling, 49 Washington Ave. in Portland. Check out Oxbow’s site for more details: Oxbowbeer.com


COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS

FRONTIER (BRUNSWICK)

Thursday: “2016 Maine Short Film Festival.” This traveling show heads to Brunswick, bringing a 100-minute program of outstanding short films from filmmaking members of the Maine Film & Video Association.

MAYO STREET ARTS

Saturday: “Strange, Hilarious, and Short: Puppet Films.” All there in the title, people—an evening of all the oddest things filmmakers can make their puppets do. “For mature audiences,” so you know it’s good!

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