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Uzumaki Review


Weak
Originally conceived as a manga graphic novel by Junji Ito, the new Japanese horror film Uzumaki doesn't survive the cinematic translation. Those expecting another meta-thriller like Hideo Nakata's popular Ring series and Kiyoski Kurosawa's Cure may find some haunting, Escher-like visuals and an appropriately disturbing apocalypse-bop finale, but this directorial debut from music video show-off Higuchinsky is all flash. Inattentive to genre basics like mood, suspense, creepy lighting (as opposed to boy band lighting), and character development, Uzumaki works on the level of visceral sideshow thrills: watch the snail people climb up a wall, see the human contortionist twist his body into a pretzel, see the hospital-bound grieving widow slice off her fingertips before doing battle with an insect predator. If it weren't cursed with the Charlie's Angels-short attention span video-trained directors have been bombarding us with, Uzumaki might be commended for its spate of bedazzling creature effects.

Anything goes in Asian horror, using basic plot scenarios to tap into feverish nightmare set pieces. Possessed by a bizarre supernatural force, the residents of a small seaside village become obsessive over spiral shapes and snail shells. A schoolgirl weaves her hair into a Medusa pattern, other children start taking on the characteristics of amphibian creatures, and there are a series of cult-induced suicides. Amidst this slow building carnage are a young couple (Eriko Hatsune and Fhi Fan) who consider eloping, but their Scooby Doo curiosity gets the best of them and they attempt to solve the mystery. All the makings of a first rate creepshow are there (consider John Carpenter's terrific In the Mouth of Madness as the American version), but Higuchinsky hasn't seen enough surrealist-nightmare Dario Argento movies and it quickly devolves into the attention-grabbing camera tricks that similarly undermined Michel Gondry's Human Nature. Unable to sustain mood, they go for high concept designs that might work in a three-minute video but grow quickly tiresome in a full-length feature.

Continue reading: Uzumaki Review

Shinjuku Triad Society Review


Weak
Takashi Miike tries to get all the sex out of his system in one fell swoop with Shinjuku Triad Society, the first in a rough series of films called the "Black Society Trilogy" and Miike's first film that wasn't a straight-to-video production.

You got oral sex, you got straight sex, you got anal sex. You got men, you got women. You got violent sex. You got prostitute sex. You got yourself a ton of sex here.

Continue reading: Shinjuku Triad Society Review

Full Metal Yakuza Review


OK
It's the flipside of RoboCop in every way: The hero's a cyborg, but everything else is twisted: Instead of a cop, he's a street thug. Instead of a slick Hollywood movie, it's a direct-to-video flick made on the cheap. And instead of taking place in Detroit, Full Metal Yakuza hails, as we'd expect, from Japan.

Takashi Miike is unapologetic about ripping off Robo, but at least he's got a sense of humor about it. Never mind electricity: This flick's hero eats metal for energy. And our underground designer puts efforts into ensuring that the yakuza has the world's longest schlong (no one should be left unsatisfied by the full metal yakuza!), which appears pixilated every time it's on camera.

Continue reading: Full Metal Yakuza Review

Audition (Odishon) Review


Weak

The main character in "Audition" is a shy, middle-aged Japanese widower who taps a movie-making buddy to help him find a new wife now that his son is a teenager with a life of his own and little interest in hanging around with dad.

His friend arranges for Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) to pretend to be a producer and sit in on phony screen tests of wannabe actresses that might strike our hero's fancy. He hopes to hit it off with one of them, then string her along with little white lies about delayed casting decisions, hoping she'll become more interested in him than the movie. (This plot would never work if the film were set in Hollywood!)

When pretty, very demure Asami (fashion model Eihi Shiina in her film debut) takes the bait then later confesses she doesn't really want to be an actress, Aoyama falls in love and seems to think he's landed in a quaint little romantic comedy.

Continue reading: Audition (Odishon) Review

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Audition (Odishon) Movie Review

Audition (Odishon) Movie Review

The main character in "Audition" is a shy, middle-aged Japanese widower who taps a movie-making...

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