Blog Archives

Tokyo Family (2013)

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When Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher masterpiece Psycho in 1998, I have to admit to a certain level of bemusement. Why, when the original film was perfect in both pitch and execution, would anyone anywhere feel the need to remake it almost shot for shot? It seemed like an exercise in redundancy and in the end I walked away from that film with the only opinion that made sense to me — Van Sant was such a Hitchcock … (read more)

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Smuggler (2011)

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Failed — or at least distracted — actor Kinuta (Satoshi Tsumabuki) spends his days dismally holed up in front of a slot machine, a poster child for what we in Australia would call pokies addiction. Quiet and vulnerable, he is manipulated into taking a job he can’t turn down and joins a team of smugglers for the Yakuza: moving a truck full of things that need to pass unnoticed, often things that are suspiciously man-shaped.… (read more)

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Dororo (2007)

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It’s possibly shameful to admit – I’m only familiar with Tezuka Osamu’s Dororo thanks to the people at Sony. It was a game, you see, and pretty kick ass too, if a little weird. In the game, forty-eight demons strike a bargain with a man; rule the world for the price of his firstborn son. However, in a macabre twist more suited to a Miike or Nakata film perhaps, these demons aren’t that greedy. They don’t want the child’s soul … (read more)

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Spring Snow (2005)

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As with many films derived from serious Japanese literary works, there often seems to be a depth of meaning that lingers just out of reach for the Western audience member. Sometimes it’s the language barrier in action; certain nuanced concepts in Japanese just cannot be expressed as neatly in English. Sometimes it’s the cultural differences; the historical and social influences that have shaped both the Japanese spirit as well as the Japanese narrative can occasionally seem, well, utterly foreign. Sometimes, … (read more)

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Waterboys (2001)

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Ninety-one minutes of wet Japanese boys: I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. For those that need further convincing, Waterboys is also piss-funny. It’s a simple story, about a boys high school swim team. Team membership goes from one to fifty when the boys find their new coach is a girl, then back to five when she wants them to do synchronized swimming. Bummer. They’ll be called nancies if they succeed, and losers if they don’t.

If you’ve ever … (read more)

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Dragon Head (2003)

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For the first fifteen minutes of this film, Teru falls over. A lot. Really. Granted, he does have reason: he’s one of three survivors of a huge (and very fast: they don’t call them bullet trains for their size) train smash. He’s stumbling over the rubble and the corpses, looking for others and a way out. But you’ll soon be clenching the arms of your seat and urging the boy to just walk, dammit!

He does recover his motor skills, … (read more)

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