Miki Nakatani

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Train Man Review


Very Good
The back story behind Train Man is as entertaining as the film itself. Based on an allegedly true and utterly inconsequential encounter on a Tokyo subway that occurred in 1999, the film follows behind newspaper articles, books, comics, and even a TV series, all of which rehash and reflect on one nerd's much-discussed quest for true love.

"Train Man" (Takayuki Yamada) is a 22-year-old dweeb who does corporate tech support by day and hangs around Tokyo's electronics district by night collecting toy figures, fidgeting nervously with his glasses, and hiding behind his stringy hair. He's a classic otaku, an ubernerd who is most comfortable when he's alone and typing on his computer.

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Rasen Review


Weak
"Ringu" doesn't mean anything. It's simply a Japanese approximation of the sound a phone makes. I'm not sure what "Rasen," the sequel to Ringu means, but in America, it's a dried grape.

Hustled out the same year as the wildly successful Ringu, Rasen was only the first attempt at a follow-up sequel. It picks up where the original left off, focusing on the investigation into the bizarre deaths we thought we had figured out in the original. Surprise: There's no ghost or spirit, really. It's all a virus that makes you see terrible things before you die. (Never mind that you can avoid getting whacked if you show a videotape to someone else.)

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Ringu Review


Very Good
Before there was The Ring, there was Ringu, the Japanese horror/thriller that was remade virtually verbatim from this original. Of course, it's a little less Hollywood-shiny, a little less in-yo-face-scary, and a lot more subtitled. But the guts are the same: an unlabeled videotape is making the rounds... watch it, and you die in one week's time. A skeptic TV station employee discovers the tape after her cousin watches it and dies, watches it herself, and soon draws her ex-husband and nephew into the quest to find out more about the tape's origins and, hopefully, avoid death for all three of them.

Ringu is very atmospheric and often creepy, especially in its last half hour, but it's hardly chilling enough to keep you up at night. The fairly vapid performances don't really help, but the overwhelming sense of marching us toward doom makes up for many of the film's flaws. The remake, by all accounts, actually seems to be a better time.

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Ringu 2 Review


Weak
Rushed out the same year as Ringu, Ringu 2 ignores the first sequel Rasen (see that review for details why) and continues where the first film left off, designed as a spiritual journey into the backstory of Sadako, whose body was exhumed from a well in Ringu, not quite lifting the old watch-the-video-and-you-die curse. This time Mai (Miki Nakatani) finds her nephew -- and maybe herself too -- developing creepy psychic death-vision powers, and she spends much of the film in various mental institutions and locales with padded walls trying to figure out why.

Note that, at least on the bootleg DVD that I saw, the white-on-white subtitles make much of the film hard to understand. I doubt many people will care, anyway. The kooky sequel bears little resemblance to its predecessor, especially regarding the sense of dreadful urgency it carried. A stillborn thriller.

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Miki Nakatani

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Train Man Movie Review

Train Man Movie Review

The back story behind Train Man is as entertaining as the film itself. Based on...

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