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The movie Kairo, or "Pulse", has a terrific concept, but sadly does
very little with it, wasting precious running time in a more then
timid, and rather confused manner, evoking boredom more then anything
The movie lacks tension, and the script is just terrible, missing moments of character development and relationship or dialog that should have helped mold the plot, instead stagnates with indecision. The movie has some nice effects, and the characters aren't reproachable, I just didn't feel anything from the film but casual disinterest.
If an immersing, gripping, Asian ghost story is what you crave, consider Dark Water, The Eye, Shutter, A Tale of Two Sisters, Ghost House, Ringu, Ring 0, or even the American remake of 'The Ring'. Kairo simply lacked one thing: a pulse.
This is one movie where a remake could actually prove helpful, and I rarely encourage remakes if ever. I will still be incredibly upset if they destroy A Tale of Two Sisters or Oldboy.
Kairo: Working on similar principles as the 1909 E.M. Forster short
story "The Machine Stops", this early fable also centres on the concept
of isolation and loneliness that can be brought about by the dependence
of the mechanical over the psychical.
Such as Kairo, written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, brings forward the message of overuse of modern technology and its possible additive side effects, such as social inertia, this has in its own rights devastating results. With the all too familiar indifference that this technology can bring, the Human Soul slowly implodes, as the Spirit forgets or just gives up the fight, to interact, to live, the Heartbeat, the Kairo of the Soul dies.
This is done in a very tasteful and somewhat frightening manner, with the Souls of the dead, or just victims of their own segregation? Coming back to haunt the living, to forewarn or to plead a cry for help? Kiyoshi Kurosawa has done an excellent job here of using the medium of technology to portray a line that has been crossed over by the disenchanted and their past lives. The result is a dark truth that all is not well within the World that they inhabit, they are slowly committing social suicide. Then the cry of a million lonely Souls are heard, trying desperately to reach out and maintain the Human contact that they have lost.
There are scenes here that will have your heart jumping, and your pulse racing; the supernatural method of realisation and the coming consequence of the Worlds independence of this technology is a daunting reminder of our own suicide.
Having Kiyoshi Kurosawa win the 2001 José Luis Guarner Critic's Award at the Catalonian International Film Festival, Sitges in Spain, and nominated for Best Film too. 2002 was a good year for Kiyoshi Kurosawa also; for the Japanese Professional Movie Awards had Kumiko Aso, who plays Michi Kudo, win the Award for Best Actress.
After The Machine, all there is left is you .
I am far from an expert in cinema or Japanese culture, but I think this
film should be viewed, in part, as an allegory about the demographic
crisis in modern day Japan.
Japan is a nation with an aging and shrinking population, because their birth rate is too low and they discourage immigration. The Japanese work very hard and are very technologically advanced, yet not enough people are getting married and having enough children, Japanese culture and society and economic power may fade away in the future. I think the film may be alluding to this.
Notice that in this movie there are NO children. Nobody is married. Nobody is having children. All the characters are young single adults. There are not even any parents (one character very briefly calls her mother; that is the sole reference in the entire film to the existence of parents, children, or families!)
In the movie, the characters are disappearing and the connections they try to make with each other do not prevent more of them from disappearing . . . eventually leading to an apocalyptic vision of everyone disappearing in Japan.
The survivors at the end are fleeing by boat -- to where? to Latin America of all places, where they've heard there are signs of life. Not coincidentally, me thinks, Latin America is a continent with a very high birth rate.
Anyway, that's my theory and I'm stickin' to it.
Overall, I think the movie is more than a bit muddled. And at least when viewing it on video, the dark lighting and action on screens within screens (i.e., within my TV screen is a room and within that room is a computer screen, and within that computer screen are ghosts) make it hard to follow at times.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very special film. New heights in the horror genre have certainly been reached in this little affair. This just happened to be on TV one night - a Japanese movie something about the Internet and ghosts - I decided to watch it. *SPOILERS* Things are very obscure right from the opening and you don't really know what's going on only that something very dark and terrible is beginning to unfold. Before you know it, there's a scene in a dark corridor where a young man sees from the shadows a dark ghostly figure of what looks like a woman slowly coming towards him, with the choice of sound effects used in this short scene along with 'the fear of the unknown' this really makes for one of the most terrifying moments in any movie I can remember. For had it been a vampire in that corridor or a red eyed growling mutated beast drooling saliva , Satan himself even, it certainly wouldn't have sent those chills through as we've all dealt with that sort many times before. The director really hit the mark, slowly dragging you in, managing to keep you in the dark, keeping you guessing wanting answers, supplying you with moments of supernatural terror to the eventual end of a society. There are many great moments in this show to haunt you long after. True brilliance.
"Kairo" is one of those movies that, like the films of David Fincher,
Jeunet & Caro, or even Kurosawa's own "Cure," succeeds in fully
encompassing the viewer in the world of the film. In other words,
the atmosphere is vivid, and gets under your skin.
However, unlike Kurosawa's elliptical, enigmatic "Cure," "Kairo"
fails in its plot implausibilities. It is only when Kurosawa attempts
to explain the existence of the film's Internet-transmitted ghosts
that the film falls apart. Now, perhaps something is lost in the
translation - some subtlety or linguistic schema. However, all the
same, it is maddeningly implausible.
That aside, the atmosphere is still sumptuous. Who could resist
the film's apocalyptic finale? Or the ominous "forbidden rooms"
oozing with shadow, decay and, ultimately, anticpation of the
Another note - Kurosawa's blend of horror is especially enticing to
fans of Kubrick, Godard and Antonioni. Maybe it's the coolly
detached characters and the overbearingly sparse settings.
What is it about Japanese and video displays? Evil Dead. The Ring
series. Kaïro. Not to mention Perfect Blue and Serial Experiments:
Lain. I just saw a lesser film, Tomie, and was a little startled to see
not one such display, though Tomie's eye peeking out of the bag looks
like the poster art for Ringu.
Long before I'd heard of Kaïro, I decided Lain flows with the syntax of a horror film. Cyber horror. Internet horror. The "key" to Kaïro is spoken by a grad student in a library near the film's center. Something about the place dead go finally reaching capacity, so spilling over: someone goes, someone long gone springs back, frightening someone else to death, crowding back yet another spectre in a outwardly spiraling vicious circle. The explicitness of this explanation, tells me it's not what the film is about. If you're going to write a poem about love, don't use the word. If you see the word "sea" in a true poet's poem, look elsewhere for its meaning. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's no less true a poet than Tarkovsky who he resembles in everything since Cure, or Godard who he resembled in the couple of yakuza films I was able to catch. There's no God, and no gods in Kaïro (though Koji Yakusho in his two appearances comes close). These people are utterly alone, save for each other. Whatever this film means, or wants to say, is in the choreography, the shadows and those screens, the pace. When these kids (Are there any true adults, over-thirties, on the mainland?) stray again and again into the dark, it's not the horror film cliché. You'd almost think they're drawn to the throngs on the other side. But that's too simple. Try this: Chris Marker's 1965 Le mystère koumiko, about an alienated Japanese woman's return to throngs. Maybe not, or...I don't know. I was going to talk about Lain. Let me just hint briefly, that Lain is full of gods, yet Lain and Kaïro may be a pair.
There's a reason you may wait a long time to see this. A propeller plane, not a jet. A low factory structure, not a skyscraper. First time round, ebay innocent, I got a video dub such a joke that I gave it away unwatched. Just to see the region 3 Kaïro, I bought an all region DVD player, and it was worth it.
Kairo definitely makes use of ambiguity. After series of strange events, mysterious figures, and creepy voices, this film forces you to follow closely and try to piece the clues together. The overall tone is dark and deals with issues like alienation and loneliness. At times, pacing seems slow but the spectre scenes are neat to watch. I may have to see this one again to fully appreciate it.
When I first saw Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kaïro scheduled for the Sitges Cinema
Festival it was presented as another Ringu, another Japanese terror movie
don't mean I didn't like Ringu, It was great, but the following copies it
had were... "no so good"), with floppy disks instead of video tapes.
However, I was wrong, it had nothing to do with it.
We were just 50 people or even less watching the movie (and I have to say that at least 20 left the cinema during the movie), so I didn't have much trouble trying to read the subtitles as the film wasn't dubbed at all (THANK GOD, you can't imagine how much takeshi kitano films loose dubbed into Spanish). The movie started and for the first fifteen minutes, the film seemed to be some kind of soft Ringu, but after that, the movie turned into a great feelings experience, a surrealist world full of spirits or I'd better say, empty of life.
The film focus in the experiences of the young main characters, their feelings, their fears, their reactions. The problem is (and that's why such amount of people left the theater) that the feelings showed and the characters relationships may be too Japanese for the western public. So you have to be quite open-minded, and know the Japanese society quite a bit, to really enjoy this film.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa has learned how to do good movies very quickly, in almost 15 years has become one of the bests movie directors in Japan. In Kaïro he shows how hard he has worked in the relationships, and deep feelings of the Japanese people, into their fears and hopes. He knows how to make an awesome tragic opera from what seemed a common Japanese terror film.
In conclusion, if you want something new, fresh, and EASTERN, watch Kaïro (Pulse). However if you don't have any interest in Japanese people, their culture, their society, but want to enjoy a really terrifying movie, rent Ringu (The Ring) instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Unlike many other modern filmmakers, Kiyoshi Kurosawa is able to put the
sense of dread up on the movie screen like no one I've ever seen before.
Like some of his other films, most noticeably Kyua (Cure) and Karisuma
(Charisma) Kurosawa is able to convey a sense that the apocalypse is near.
And his latest film, Kairo, he does just the same and even moves beyond us
Kairo is a film like no other. It's almost a reflection of our modern society in which we, as a society, have too much reliance on technology. Similar in vein to the anime series, Serial Experiments: Lain, Kairo tells the story of a group of young people and what befalls them as beings from the other side of existence (ghosts, maybe?) connect to them via the computer, cell phones, and television. Young people commit suicide leaving behind an ashen shadow where they killed themselves; strange images appear on computer screens, a dark figure roams the university library, and many more strange things happen in the course of the film. All of them adding up to a surprisingly good movie that starts out like a typical ghost thriller and evolving into something else that transcends any genre before it.
This film couldn't be done anyway other then the way Kurosawa has done it. Kurosawa has a style all his own: he's able to take a normal genre of film and turn it on its side and make something totally unique out of it. Each film both thought provoking and entertaining at the same time.
Pulse is equal parts brilliant filmmaking, atmosphere, and the end of the world all wrapped into one. If this film is playing anywhere near you, please see it, it was the best film of 2001, that nobody saw.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first thing I must say of Pulse is it's one of the most effectively
chilling movies I've seen. It isn't 'scary' scary as such, but it's
written and directed in a fashion that keeps you thinking about all the
ins and outs of the film in your head afterwards...and those ins and
outs be crazy...
In a similar fashion to the Pang Brother's original Eye, Pulse is actually in reverse to most horror movies, as most of the scary horrible scenes come in the first hour. Without ever throwing anything you could call a jump at you Pulse is downright terrifying, especially in this first hour. All the scares are those horrible slow-burn Shiningesque scares the Japanese do so well. After this movie I guarantee you'll find yourself staring intently at any dark corner you have in your house, and if you ever see a door taped up with red duck tape you'll run like hell. This movie, it's a chiller for sure. No big guys with axes, no blood spilt but after this I would gladly sit in front of the whole Halloween series back to back without even flinching.
Still, if you're one of the 5% of society who don't find the unknown, ghosts and such and freaky women walking out of step out of the darkness while the soundtrack makes gurgling sounds just a little wrong, Pulse is different to many Horror flicks in that it has a strong plot with an original premise. The idea of Pulse is that the afterlife is full, and spirits are kind of bouncing off the walls in there looking for a conduit out. Because of the loneliness of Japanese society suicide is on the rise, and in Japanese mysticism if you kill yourself, you die without a soul, leaving a space for a spirit to pass into the real world. So towards the start of the movie, the spirits, who have managed to get as far as 'forbidden rooms' areas where the two planes cross over, and are willing those they contact to kill themselves so they can cross over. However, a side effect of the contact is that the contactee becomes even more lonely, and eventually whether they kill themselves or not, passes out of existence, making the spirit's transition even easier. I won't spoil the second half but I will go as far as to say this makes for a really interesting twist in the tale.
OK, I've begun to ramble. I just love the story in this, it's such a cool idea. The effects team must be praised, as the hauntings are damn scary and truly original looking. One haunting is quite similar to Ringu, but given that's the movie that launched this genre I'll let Pulse off.
So, I think this is a really good chiller. I recommend you see this before Hollywood remake it (as even if it's a decent film it will probably focus on jumps and ghosts, and probably jettison the plot entirely) though if you're in the US you'll have trouble as the contract for the remake effectively bans screening the original prior to the release of the American version. What a load of capitalist BS. Anyhoo. Pulse is a great movie, seek it out, see it, and hopefully enjoy it.
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