24 posts categorized "Japanese Cinema"

October 31, 2023

HOUSE — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comNobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 surrealistic satire regarding the overwhelming aftermath of America’s atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a virtuosic fantasy horror movie unlike any other.

Of the atomic bombs’ 200,000 causalities, all of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s childhood friends were among the deceased.

Nobuhiko Obayashi was just eight years old at the time of the attacks. Clearly, he never lost sight of his pals, or his loss. Here, Obayashi throws a cinematic extravaganza party to celebrate the lost potential of a generation.

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Extreme teenage Japanese punk power pop! You bet.

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We’re way beyond “Rocky Horror” baby.

“House” takes the cake, the dining room table, the piano, and most certainly the title’s house of horrors that devours seven teenage girls via a very hungry piano.

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Chomp, chomp, chomp.

“House” shows Obayashi’s encyclopedic mastery of state-of-the-art filmmaking, from a deeply personal approach to meeting the sugary commercial demands of the film’s producers.

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This insanely ambitious movie puts George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to shame with pure inventiveness.

Obayashi received story ideas from his eleven-year-old daughter, Chigumi. A blood-spewing white cat piles on the film’s cartoonish tone of outrageous evil consuming every body that steps in its path.

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Nobuhiko Obayashi uses every filmic technique at his disposal, in order to transmogrify the grief, pain, and sense of incalculable loss that he and so many others experienced. What results is a cinematic phantasmagoria overflowing with humor, expressions of love, and deep-seeded fear of the unknown.

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Visually and viscerally stunning from start to finish, “House” is much more than a mere masterpiece.

Not Rated. 88 mins.

5 Stars THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA ColeSmithey.com
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Cozy Cole

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October 21, 2023

CURE — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

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ColeSmithey.comWriter/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's bold police procedural breaks every cliche in the book.

Traces of "Se7en" and "The Silence of the Lambs" flow through the film's dark psychological undertow.

The story's enigmatic killer is a young man who hypnotizes those he comes into contact with, to carry out horrific murders that necessarily involve slicing the victim's throat in a large X pattern that allows for maximum bleeding.

Our killer is able to commit heinous acts of murder through the delicate nature of lacking self identity of those he hypnotizes to do his evil bidding.

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Kôji Yakusho's police detective Kenichi Takabe plods through the demanding days of his dead-end job, dedicated to taking care of his mentally ill wife Fumie (Anna Nakagawao).

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Kenichi dreams of taking her on a vacation that may never happen.

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Tokyo serves as a cold and foreboding backdrop to the mental anguish on display.

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Suspenseful and taught with plot twists galore, "Cure" is an overlooked masterpiece from the same filmmaker responsible for "Tokyo Sonata," another terrific movie, albeit from a different genre altogether.

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Not Rated. 111 mins.

5 Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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October 13, 2023

HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comTakashi Miike maintains his reputation as a prolific international filmmaker of considerable talent. A 52-year-old director with 88 films to his credit, Miike is a boldface name on the international cinematic circuit with good reason. His confident sense of style and commanding use of composition combine with sophisticated taste on par anything Eastwood, Lynch, Polanski, Scorsese, or Tarantino have put on the big screen.

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Miike’s update of Masaki Kobayashi’s black-and-white 1962 film “Harakiri” never brushes a wrong note. The story’s set up is the stuff of dramatic fascination. As with the unforgettable opening of Abel Ferrara’s “Ms. 45,” the audience is instantly hooked.

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The setting is Japan’s 17th century feudal Edo period — a peaceful era without much demand for samurai warriors. Hanshiro (Ebizo Ichikawa), an impoverished ronin, approaches his local samurai lord — Kageyu (Koji Yakusho) — to request use of the House of Li’s courtyard in order to commit seppuku, so he can have a warrior’s finish to his dishonorable state. Hanshiro’s request is met with cold contempt. Kageyu tells in flashback the story of another samurai — Motome (Eita) — who came with a similar request the previous week.

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In this sequence, Kageyu’s assistant Omodaka warns his master that he suspects the man of attempting a “suicide bluff” in order to procure money. Once situated in the courtyard, Motome is assigned a second, a witness, and an attendant. Realizing his dire condition, Motome begs for one more day, or even a few hours, to leave and return before carrying out his bloody mission. His desperate appeal is refused.

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When he is finished telling the story, Kageyu offers Hanshiro the chance to give up his request and leave without incident; Hanshiro refuses, and insists on following through with his ritual suicide. What follows is the backstory behind Motome’s own decision to attempt a suicide-bluff, and his relationship to the unwavering Hanshiro. “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” is a stunner from start to finish.

Not Rated. 126 mins.

5 Stars ColeSmithey.com COLE MONSTERColeSmithey.com

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