In 1844 Japan, young Lord Naritsugu (Inagaki) is such a sadist that he's about to end a long period of peace. And his merciless rampage of rape, torture and death goes unchallenged because he's the Shogun's half-brother. Shocked by where this is heading, top samurai Shinzaemon (Yakusho) assembles a team of 12 warriors to take him out. It's clearly a suicide mission. And they pick up a wild-eyed 13th colleague (Iseya) on the way to setting an elaborate trap for Naritsugu and his 200-strong entourage.
Continue reading: 13 Assassins Review
Shohei (Black Rain -- not the Michael Douglas version) Imamura's new film, The Eel, documents this quiet, eccentric character during his first several months of parole. What starts out as the story of a murderer shifts gears to become a quirky character study with more than a little touch of farce as he attempts to start his life over as a village barber in a small seaside town. He doesn't seem to like people very much, spending most of his time confessing to his eel, which "listened to him" as his pet during those hard years in prison.
Continue reading: The Eel Review
The Most Terrible Time in My Life is the first installment of a three-part series concerning Maiku Hama - a punk-turned-respectable private eye whose office is located in a movie theatre. A gritty, violent tale of gangland warfare, missing people, and friendships, and betrayal, Maiku's exploits begin by defending a waiter at a local mah-jongg parlor from two Yakuza thugs, culminating in Maiku getting part of his pinky finger sliced off. The waiter, Hai Ting, then hires Maiku to find his brother who has gone missing for a year since arriving in Japan. Maiku contacts his old cabby buddy Hoshino and finds out the Taiwanese and Hong Kong mafias are planning an all-out turf war in Japan.
Continue reading: The Most Terrible Time In My Life Review
And in a way, that's the problem. Audition starts out as the sweetest little love tragedy you can imagine. Poor Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is nursing his wife during her final hours on her deathbed. She passes away and he's left to raise their son alone. Years later, he has finally gotten over the loss of his wife and consults his friend on how a widower finds a girl these days. The friend proposes a clever idea: Hold an audition for a movie that will never be made. Ask the girls whatever you want, then pick and choose the perfect one for a wife.
Continue reading: Audition Review
What September 11 has that the other films don't is star power and international perspective. The 11 directors who submit work here represent a walk of fame of international cinema. Though I'm not familiar with the work of Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran) or Idrissa Ouedraogo (Burkina-Faso), to name a few, names like Penn, Lelouch, Iñárritu, Nair, and Loach represent some major names.
Continue reading: 11'09''01 - September 11 Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.