Shinji Takeda

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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.

Continue reading: Pulse (2001) Review

The Happiness Of The Katakuris Review


Very Good
Totally bizarre (and thus in keeping with Miike's other work), The Happiness of the Katakuris tells the story -- as a musical -- of an innkeeping family that hits a string of bad luck with its very first patron turns up dead. So they bury him out back, so word doesn't get out and ruin the business before it ever gets going. Apparently a remake of a Korean film I've never seen, the oddity of the plot is matched only be the strangeness of the singing. There's claymation, dance numbers, dancing corpses, and bizarre cross-dressing karaoke. How can you not be enthralled? How can you not be baffled completely?

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Taboo Review


Excellent
It's been 25 years since Japanese director Nagisa Oshima shocked international audiences with In the Realm of the Senses, his lurid look at a sadomasochistic couple that loses all abandon and commits a carnal act never before captured on the big screen: one lover cuts off the other's penis.

New Yorker Films is hyping the similarity between Senses and Oshima's latest work, Taboo, saying the new film, "like... Senses, deals with the anti-authoritarian sway of sexuality, a nearly taboo subject in Japan."

Continue reading: Taboo Review

Taboo Review


OK

The recruiting of a skilled but effeminate young warrior creates a cancer of impulsive desires, rumors and jealousy that eats away at an esteemed 19th Century samurai militia in Nagisa Oshima's new psychosexual drama, "Taboo."

The men of this tight-knit unit all come to either admire the young enlistee for his talent with a sword or, unexpectedly, lust for his soft features and coy social demeanor -- or more frequently both. The eventual result is upheaval in the camp, as the boy (Ryuhei Matsuda) becomes the object of lust, scorn and gossip while taking various lovers, fending off others and at the same time trying to adhere to his duty as a samurai.

The film's characters are largely fascinating and enigmatic, especially the boy -- who absentmindedly toys with the affections and fury of his admirers -- and a lieutenant who seems to be the only person in the camp keeping his perspective. (The lieutenant is played by "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, the actor-writer-director whose poetically violent gangster films have made him a Japanese cinema icon.)

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Shinji Takeda Movies

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Taboo Movie Review

Taboo Movie Review

It's been 25 years since Japanese director Nagisa Oshima shocked international audiences with In the...

Taboo Movie Review

Taboo Movie Review

The recruiting of a skilled but effeminate young warrior creates a cancer of impulsive desires,...

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