Shinya Kawai

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Yi Yi Review


Excellent
It wasn't fair. For more than 10 years, Taiwanese director Edward Yang made movies that were runaway hits in Asia and at festivals around the world, but the films weren't released commercially in the United States. With Yi Yi, that's all changed, and the only question now is, "What took so long?"

Nearly everything about Yi Yi is odd and wonderful. The movie revolves around a middle-class family in Taipei struggling with everyday life. The main character is an uptight businessman named NJ whose company faces bankruptcy. His wife is a delicate woman who breaks down when her mother suffers a stroke. The family's youngest member, a precocious 10-year-old boy, is preoccupied with photographing the backs of people's heads. And the boy's sister is a student musician who falls for the wrong guy.

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Another Heaven Review


OK
There are two kinds of Japanese thrillers: Those that don't translate very well to the Western world, and those that don't translate at all.

Another Heaven (from one of the producers of Ringu) is pretty squarely in the latter group, though that doesn't make it as complete a waste of time as it ought to be. It starts with promise: A group of cops investigate a murder scene: The victim is dead on the floor, his head sliced open and his brain cooking in a pot of stew on the stove. What follows gets confusing, and fast, as it turns out a bunch of brainless folks are on the loose, and they're all killing people before they die themselves.

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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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Shinya Kawai Movies

Yi Yi Movie Review

Yi Yi Movie Review

It wasn't fair. For more than 10 years, Taiwanese director Edward Yang made movies...

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