Newly released from a decade in prison, Tachibana (Ryo Ishibashi) is a new man living by an old code. While the jail time has cleared his mind and bloodstream, his conscience still aches from the memory of his past acts. Meanwhile, the world has changed in his absence. The bosses he so faithfully served time for have forgotten the old ways of the yakuza, abandoning their honor in the pursuit of money. Corruption now pervades the crime family to which he has dedicated his life. Drugs now rule the street.
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Start by taking a peek at the uncommon amount of gore: Bodies explode when they impact the ground, like enormous water balloons filled with blood. A belt made of human flesh shows up on a subway platform. Limbs and heads are everywhere. This is not a film for the faint of heart.
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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
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.
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Japan's king of the artistically extra-violent yakuza flick, Takeshi Kitano (aka "Beat" Takeshi), makes his English language debut in "Brother," a heavy, moody L.A. gangland drama that has all the bloody shootouts the writer-director-actor is known for, but loses its grip as it tries to grab for an emotional hook.
Kitano stars as a hunted Tokyo mob enforcer who escapes to Los Angeles after a turf war that left his clan decimated and his own brother acquiescing to the enemy. He muscles in on the operation of another, younger half-brother (Claude Maki) who is scraping by as a petty thug, and quickly organizes the brother's shabby crew into a merciless force poised to take over the local territories of both street and Mafia gangs.
There's a vicious circle, rise-and-fall element to Kitano's story in "Brother," as he rapidly builds a minor empire with his brother and another fiercely distrusting lieutenant, played by Omar Epps ("In Too Deep," "Love and Basketball") at his side. Just the gang's move from a small room in the back of a warehouse to a swanky office in a converted gymnasium (complete with leather couches, a redwood conference table and an accountant) should be enough to signal impending and violent storm clouds on the horizon in the minds of savvy moviegoers.
Continue reading: Brother Review
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