Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
I don't like being negative, but then I also don't like lying; truth is I didn't think much of this Russia-Ukraine cinematic collaboration. Let's start with some good points, it is visually arresting (I believe the director has made music videos before) and stylishly lit. Also, the performances of the two leads (and only real characters) are good, and the music is nice. So what is wrong with it? Well, it is a love story (of sorts) about two characters who have no depth, and so who is going to care what happens to them? He is an orphaned photographer, she a cellist; that is about all we are ever told. I find that Russian films often float in the space between fairytale and reality, which is dangerous territory for a love-story, because if it isn't real enough then we can't engage with the characters, and that is exactly the problem here. We have a pair of lovers locked in a flat together, that really is the film. The film is going to have to have some sparkling dialogue and tensions for that to work, unfortunately it doesn't. There is barely a story in the 75 minutes that the film lasts (imdb claims 90, but I don't think my DVD was missing anything), the brevity is a small mercy considering the lack of meat on these beautiful bones. The director may go on to make something excellent in the future, but to do that he is going to have to find a story to film, because there isn't nearly enough of one here.
'Yasukuni' is a documentary about the Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese people may pay their respects to the soldiers and others who died during conflicts over the last century or so of Japan's military past. About two and a half million people are enshrined there, the mass majority of whom died during the Second World War, 1000 of them were convicted of war crimes, just over ten of those being Class-A war criminals; responsible for the massacre of millions of civilians of other Asian countries and thousands of prisoners of war from the Allied forces. It remains a deeply controversial issue and is still a key reason for the poor political relationship between China and Japan and also Korea and Japan, and the strong feelings of dislike and even hatred which exist amongst these countries' peoples. I saw this documentary with directly-translated subtitles, which means that they have been put through a translation device, consequently, I could not follow all the subtleties of what was said. Fortunately, a documentary's main purpose is to provoke thought, and this film certainly satisfies that aim. Director Li Ying has added no voice-over narration and frequently leaves the camera running for extended periods, which allows the events and non-events to unravel in a loose and naturalistic way. We see extensive footage of ceremonies, protests against, and shows of support for, the shrine, all filmed by a shaky, hand-held camera. There are reels of footage of a 90 year old sword-maker, whose frequent silences and non-responses may tell us more about Japanese culture and feelings about Yasukuni than any direct answer could. At one point we see him fiddling with his stereo-system for over 3 minutes whilst muttering that the buttons are too small, just to show us what he listens to of an evening. Yes, over three minutes of a ninety year old man wrestling with a tape-player; if you want rapid-fire, flashy edits and action then don't come near this film; if, however, you are looking for a deeper meditation on a difficult subject then you are in the right place. The swords that he makes are shown to be a vital symbol of Japanese spirit and he is humbly proud of his life's work, whilst an underlying sinister feeling grows because we know that those swords were used to behead countless innocents. Several other main issues are acknowledged including Former-President Junichiro Koizumi's support for Yasukuni, and the visit of a Taiwianese delegation trying to remove their relatives from the shrine. Without accurate subtitles I could not gauge how much the issue of Japanese revisionism was raised, which was a little frustrating as this ability or inability to look history fairly and honestly in the face is perhaps the most vital issue of all for the Yasukuni Shrine. Overall, those with clear and uncompromising views either for or against paying respects at Yasukuni will probably have little to complain about if they see this film; it is well-balanced and appears to remain as neutral as possible. For those people who wish to explore this important and complex topic, then I think this documentary is an excellent place to start, although it will require your patience.
We meet Makota Hirano as he ambles into sleepy, small-town Japan with no apparent aim or aspiration. A fleeting encounter with a young lady, called Nami, at a train station leads him to follow her to the Estate Agents, where she works. The shy, young asthmatic asks for a job from her husband, who owns the business, his motivation obviously not being that he wants to get closer to the world of real estate; no it is something else he is desperate to get nearer to. Before long we realise that Makota is not as shy as he may at first appear and Nami is caught between the pull of the unpredictable younger drifter and the security of her older and richer husband. Original Sin, and I have no idea why it is called that, is a beautifully crafted film from the point of view of the editing and camera work. There are several scenes where the camera placement gives us an excellent and unusual view on proceedings. Takashi Ishii is also not afraid just to let it roll and the scenes often unfurl uncut at their own leisurely pace. The soundtrack is understated but supportive and the acting is of a high standard all round. The unusualness and intensity of some of the characters actions did baffle my Western mind at times, but a general feeling of top-quality film-making pervades throughout and it is well worth a watch if you appreciate the finer-points of Japanese Cinema.
This is half a film's worth of ultra-low budget Japanese horror. We are given the general back-story that five girls went to a spooky place for a dare and were never seen again; so what better way to celebrate the anniversary than assembling a cast of psychic believers and a load of TV cameras and see what happens this time round? What happens doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, there is a weird, grotesque mask on the floor and someone puts it on, and what happens after that should really have been a good deal better than what it is. However, it is compact in its brevity and I really did like the music. If you are into mandibles, then I think you'll love it.
Angel of Darkness 3 picks up at the point that the second one finishes and moves the action away from the woods into Showa Central Hospital. Which is a good idea because that means nurses. As the injuu (the demon) moves from host to host through its succession of victims we are then taken to Seika College. This is also a good idea because that means schoolgirls. Basically in all of these films the injuu wants the sweetest little virgin girl, but instead of just going straight for her it has to go through loads of other people first. I don't know why; perhaps he's shy. In this case she is a dear little cutiepie call Fumie, and she gets her big scene when it goes all 'Exorcist' at the end. Yeah, exorcist, because in films III & IV we have Japanese priests trying to send the demon to hell, or at least trap it in a little vase or make-up box and bury it somewhere out of town. The Japanese Vicar is probably the scariest thing about the film; Asian Christians give me the creeps. Anyway, tentacle-sex, skinny little schoolgirls, raw rat-eating, yep, that's about it. I found it the weakest of the series, too much chatter, not enough tentacles.