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Fish Story Review


Excellent
With a lively tone and an intricately plotted multi-strand story, this Japanese drama holds our attention using humour, drama and an end-of-the-world scenario.

It's also a thoroughly charming bit of filmmaking.

As a cataclysmic comet approaches in 2012, three guys consider the ahead-of-its-time Japanese punk band Gekirin (meaning "wrath"), which released Fish Story in 1975, a year before the Sex Pistols formed. As they wonder whether music can save the world, we flash back 37 years to meet the bandmates (including Ito and Kora) struggling to stay afloat; shy Masashi (Hamada) in 1982 trying to work out the song's secret message; a cult awaiting Nostradamus' 1999 world-ending event; and a baker (Moriyama) and lost girl Asami (Tabe) who encounter terrorists in 2009.

Continue reading: Fish Story Review

Tokyo! Review


Good
Tokyo! is a curious conundrum. The movie is a triptych of short films about the titular metropolis made by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Joon-ho Bong, three non-Japanese filmmakers. Each tries to offer up personalized impressions of the Japanese capital, and that alone would suggest a worthwhile cinematic experience. But the films themselves lack the intimacy with Tokyo's cultural nuances that we crave from a piece like this, trafficking instead in stereotypes and platitudes.

For its easy charm and humor, Michel Gondry's "Interior Design" comes off best. Gondry's story follows a young couple -- Hiroko and Akira (Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase) -- who have just moved to Tokyo, struggling to find an apartment, jobs, and generally to start their new lives. Akira's an aspiring filmmaker-artist, hence a bit of a space case, while his girlfriend Hiroko is smart but directionless. While getting started in Tokyo, they bunk up with a friend in her absurdly tiny apartment. Gradually, Hiroko pulls away from Akira and, in a Gondry-esque bit of transmogrification, she suddenly has the ability to shift from human to chair form and back. As a chair, she becomes part of the furnishings in a stranger's home, and feels herself an object of value, something she lacked as a human being. Gondry pokes fun at Tokyo's housing crisis: The living spaces are hilariously cramped, hardly more than glorified closets. With the low-key bantering of its characters, the quotidian details of Tokyo street life, its movie-within-a-movie device, the human-chair magic trick, and the overall theme of life-as-reverie, this is a Gondry project through and through. And, though not illuminating on the subject of its city, it's still a cute, clever take on Tokyo to keep us amused.

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Ichi The Killer Review


Essential
Twenty minutes into Takashi Miike's latest, visceral opus Ichi the Killer, I had to stop the film in fear of going mad from the mayhem I was witnessing. A violent opera of sadism filled with mutilated yakuza, masochistic prostitutes, and innocent victims caught up in a swath of incendiary revenge, Ichi the Killer is nothing short of a masterpiece -- and a challenging one.

Takashi Miike is no stranger to producing disturbing, genre-busting, and gut-wrenching cinematic treats like the Dead or Alive series, Audition, and Visitor Q. Watching a Miike film is akin to tossing the works of Billy Wilder, John Ford, Werner Fassbinder, Clive Barker, and David Cronenberg into a blender on puree mode. Then throw the mix against the wall, wipe it up with a sponge, and squeeze it onto fresh celluloid.

Continue reading: Ichi The Killer Review

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Nao Omori Movies

Fish Story Movie Review

Fish Story Movie Review

With a lively tone and an intricately plotted multi-strand story, this Japanese drama holds our...

Ichi the Killer Movie Review

Ichi the Killer Movie Review

Twenty minutes into Takashi Miike's latest, visceral opus Ichi the Killer, I had to stop...

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