If there is an artist who influenced me to further explore the visual arts, it is Akira Kurosawa. I spent many hours in high school and college watching his movies on television, and at the Ken and Unicorn theaters in San Diego.
The Japanese film director is best known for his classic, The Seven Samurai, but, almost all of his films are masterpieces.
Among my favorites:
The High and Low, a gripping, multi-dimensional film about a kidnapping.
Red Beard, about a gruff, idealistic doctor. I saw this movie while in medical school. If I remember correctly, there is a scene where a small girl, emulating her hero, tries to study his books late into the night. You don't know how I was touched watching her try not to fall asleep over his textbooks.
Yojimbo. This, my first Kurosawa movie, will always be my favorite. A very, very black comedy starring Toshiro Mifune, as a samurai who is merciless to both warring families in a Japanese village.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth, Turner Classic Movies is showing, as far as I can tell, all of his movies this month! (sorry it's the middle of the month already, I just found out.)
Run, don't walk, to TCM and record these movies. Or grab the popcorn and have a Kurosawa marathon! If you don't have TCM, this is a good example of why you should. TCM's programmers consistently come up with gems.