• Harakiri
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While the primary driving force of The Wire is Baltimore’s drug trade and the subsequent epidemic of violence, viewers are challenged to consider the larger circumstances at play in this portrait of a city. Some of my favorite characters ever created appear in this series: the drunken rogue cop, the principled stick-up artist, and the drug kingpin enrolled in business classes at the community college. Watch this for a complex and uncompromising example of the best that television has to offer.

All is not what it seems in Harakiri when a ronin enters a lord’s compound requesting to commit ritual suicide to maintain his honor. Beautifully shot and full of social critique aimed at hypocritical notions of honor and the rigidity of the establishment, this film transcends the typical samurai genre.

  • The Wire: The Complete Series (USA) 2002-2008, HBO
  • List price: $199.95 (23 discs)
  • Harakiri (Japan) 1962, Criterion Collection
  • List price: $39.95

Ryan Kuratomi, Production manager, Media Arts Center San Diego, mediaartscenter.org

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