Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

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Tokyo Sonata Review


Extraordinary
Starting out like a gentle family melodrama, this gorgeously made Japanese film morphs into something much darker as it progresses. And in both its economic premise and family observations, it couldn't be any timelier.

Ryuhei (Kagawa) manages a busy office and is so stunned when he's made redundant that he doesn't tell his wife Megumi (Koizumi). He pretends to go to work every day, hanging out near a homeless centre with an unemployed friend (Tsuda). Meanwhile, Megumi is battling her own inner demons, wishing her life wasn't so dull. And their sons have problems too: teen Takashi (Koyanagi) decides to join the US military in Iraq, while preteen Kenji (Inowaki) spends his lunch money on piano lessons, discovering that he's a prodigy.

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Tokyo Sonata Review


Very Good
The differential separating Kiyoshi Kurosawa's bizarre Tokyo Sonata from his oeuvre of uneasy art-thrillers is that its eerie atmosphere isn't brought on by signs of the paranormal. Though built on a variation on Laurent Cantet's dire Time Out, Sonata is not haunted by the ghosts of technology and history, nor does it thematically concern itself with the threat of contagion. Well, at least not directly.

Entering the office one day, Ryuhei (Teruyuki Kagawa), husband and father of two, finds his job thrown to a younger man and his new place at the back of the unemployment line. He goes home and acts as if nothing happened, even helping a fellow severed salaryman with his own charade. Meanwhile, his eldest son (Yu Koyanagi) thinks his best place is in the U.S. Army, serving the Iraq Occupation. On the other hand, his youngest son (Kai Inowaki) takes his lunch money and begins taking piano lessons. Ryuhei approves of neither.

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Pulse (2006) Review


Bad
Earlier in 2006, a killer videogame stalked teenagers in Stay Alive; Pulse ups the ante with ghostly wireless signals stalking college students. The latest J-horror remake never pitches itself over the top, refusing to pile on the jump-scares, fake-jump-scares, and the accompanying soundtrack blasts; instead, it takes a low-key approach... along the way becoming completely unconvincing and almost prodigiously unscary. Boring is the new ridiculous.

It's a shame, too, because computer-centric horror is usually a good bet for ridiculousness. Here, the computer stuff isn't detailed enough to really bug the geeks; they'll be too busy pointing out how the movie's screenplay could be improved, and how Kristen Bell takes one of the most disappointing baths in horror history.

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Pulse (2001) Review


Extraordinary
Following on the heels of Hideo Nakata's original Ringu and Takashi Shimizu's Ju-On, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 masterpiece Pulse is, at first glance, simply another J-horror film obsessed with the malevolent dangers posed by technology. Yet though the Internet becomes the conduit for otherworldly forces exerting their influence over the living, Kurosawa's film, largely forgoing traditional scare tactics in favor of a mood of dawning irrational terror, shares little with its Japanese contemporaries save for some aesthetic similarities (an austere color palette, measured pacing, long-haired female ghouls). As with his similarly magnificent serial killer saga Cure, Kurosawa assumes the superficial trappings of a genre only to utilize them for a philosophical inquiry into the disaffection and loneliness of modern existence. And with this tale of online-fostered apocalyptic alienation, the iconoclastic writer/director eerily pinpoints the means by which technological tools designed to foster greater interconnectedness instead - through encouraging depersonalized, anonymous interfacing with others - merely contribute to greater societal isolation.

Communication breakdown is Pulse's primary preoccupation, an infectious ailment that spreads throughout Tokyo like a plague - or, more aptly, like a computer virus, as a program on botanical nursery worker Taguchi's (Kenji Mizuhashi) floppy disk seems to spark a chain of catastrophic web-based events involving forlorn ghosts. When Taguchi goes missing from work, colleague Michi (Kumiko Aso) visits his apartment, where a disheveled Taguchi - when his guest's back is turned - uses a rope for fatal purposes. Examining the disk her friend had been working on, Michi and friend Junco (Kurume Arisaka) discover a haunting image of Taguchi's flat in which a computer screen projects the identical scene they're looking at, as well as a shadowy spectre staring into another monitor. Not long afterwards, Michi's television goes haywire (while a newsman discusses a long-lost communiqué) while her other co-worker Yabe (Masatoshi Matsuo), after receiving anonymous phone calls from someone pleading "Help me," unlocks a mysterious room whose doors are sealed with red duct tape. And in a concurrent storyline, technophobic economics student Kawashima (Haruhiko Kato) teams up with a computer lab worker named Harue (Koyuki) after stumbling upon a strange website called The Forbidden Room which depicts fuzzy people somnolently moving about their tiny abodes.

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Bright Future Review


Good
If you see one Japanese-urban-ennui-with-a-jellyfish story, see Bright Future, a curious story of how a bad job can wear you down to the breaking point.

Two go-nowhere factory workers are content to make moist towelettes by day, sit around their apartment by night. One fellow is slowly acclimating a jellyfish from salt water to fresh. That's the extent of the excitement.

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Cure Review


OK
In and around Tokyo, a series of unrelated murders have an eerie common characteristic: the victims, killed by those well-known to them, are each branded by an X carved into their torso just below the throat. The killers are all unknown to one another and the detail has not been publicized. The only characteristic that the killers share, besides an irreconcilable remorse, is a vague confusion about what took place in the moments leading up to the murder.

The killings haunt detective Takabi (Koji Yakusho), not least because he worries about the safety of his wife, a disturbed woman who is prone to become disoriented and lost when out of the home. The first half of the 1997 thriller Cure, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation) and now available stateside on DVD, details the crimes themselves, revealing the true culprit in the killings and showing the ways in which this murderous cipher gets inside his subjects' heads. The second half is about the detective, and about his struggle to keep the villain out of his own head.

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Doppelgänger Review


Weak
Any sense of terror promised by the idea, setup, or marketing collateral of Doppelgänger is ruined by the fact that its star closely resembles Jackie Chan. Seeing Kôji Yakusho -- who discovers an evil identical twin following him around -- repeatedly beat himself up is a giddy joke, not the horrible fright-fest we're led to believe. Corny.

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Kiyoshi Kurosawa

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Kiyoshi Kurosawa Movies

Pulse (2006) Movie Review

Pulse (2006) Movie Review

Earlier in 2006, a killer videogame stalked teenagers in Stay Alive; Pulse ups the ante...

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