If he were still alive, Akira Kurosawa would be turning 100 this month, and considering that the Japanese director was responsible for a great number of the past century's most exciting and beautiful films (from much-imitated epics like Seven Samurai to gritty thrillers like High and Low to lush extravaganzas like Ran), it's no surprise that the tributes are coming fast and thick. The homage best suited for your coffee table comes from film historian Peter Cowie, whose visually stunning study of the director's work, Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema (Rizzoli, $75), takes you from first movie to last with 250 vibrant stills, sketches, and storyboards. And with the help of the insights gleaned from interviews with the filmmaker's colleagues, you'll finally understand what happens in Rashomon.
Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema
From Rizzoli, $75 rizzoli.com