Complete list of the films Guillermo del Toro has recommended on twitter. Click the 'Read notes' button to see his…
Bizarre, unearthly, terrifying— a nation's legend, an author's imagination, a director's creation manifest in the superlative— Kwaidan
This is the film adaptation of four stories from the book "Kwaidan: Stories and studies of strange things" by Lafcadio Hearn and is actually a collection of Japanese ghost stories, taken from various sources, some even stemming from China.
As a collection of spooky, transfixing stories fabricated through heightened artificiality and blooming colors, Kwaidan slams the viewer into a mesmerizing trance. It's a beautiful mix of apparitions, surreal visions, and stories birthed from the past, and while the stories vary in quality (1st two - stunning, 2nd two - merely good), by the film's startling, dissonant conclusion, it doesn't really matter. This is a masterful movie.
Takes the experiences of watching a play, reading a book of folk tales, viewing a painting, listening to avant garde music, and having a dream and turns them into a movie. A stylized theatrical back drop, a lighting change, a slightly off-kilter motion, a slightly off-sync cue in Toru Takemitsu's otherworldly soundtrack and suddenly you're transported into the dream. Timeless, but maybe 1960s Japan would have special attraction to moral lessons like: "next time stay at home" or "keep your promises, for the sake of the children, because the past will come back to haunt you" or "remember the past, tell its story well, but don't blindly adhere to it" or "don't be a security obsessed jerk who drinks a soul in my unfinished story or whatever the lesson was in that last one."
I love anthologies. Maybe it's my growing attention issues, but bite-sized nuggets of stories, especially ones linked by theme or style are a more-than-welcome alternative to the immersion I can feel with films that use long running times to tell a single, epic story. Kwaidan obviously fits the bill, and - despite the rating (discussed later) - was beautiful and just the right amount of scary. For the sake of the rating, here's how I liked each separate story:
The Black Hair - 7/10
Kobayashi gets things started with the most overtly-terrifying tale. It's a sad love story with a gruesome twist, and is interesting in and of itself as a tragic tale of regret.…
A.V. Club review. Still can't believe "The Woman of the Snow" got cut for the U.S. release, as it's far and away the best of the four, in terms of both visual splendor and overall creepiness.
This is a sumptuous visual feast that through delirious colours, sets and imagery offers up four Japanese tales of the supernatural that all cast a spell and get under your skin over the nearly 3 hour running time. A must-see for fans of Horror and Japanese cinema from the Director of Harakiri and The Human Condition.
Kwaidan aesthetically strays about as far from realism as one can go, yet is all the better for it. In dealing with the unknown of the spirit world, Kobayashi cinematically just goes for it here, demonstrating his Japanese ghost story chops with some wonderful artistry (including expressionist backdrops) and unforgettably haunting supernatural imagery (the woman of the snow, wow!). There were certain shots in this film that even made me wonder what a Kobayashi Alien film would have looked like, its partial influence over some subsequent horror classics can most certainly be felt. Kobayashi's cinematic approach to these stories is what is most interesting, and his involvement in traditional tropes such as scary Japanese women with long black hair is…
Worth watching for the start of the third part (Hoichi the Earless) alone.
I really need to stop falling asleep for a few minutes during these epic films 😭😭😭😭😭
amazing sound - beautifully painted sets.
could have perhaps used a little more editing to tidy it up in parts.
i'm considering having my entire body tatooed with tiny Kanji now.
It has a serious pace problem in my opinion (and I watched and loved maaany asian films, believe me; and Kobayashi's Seppuku is one of my all time favorites) and stories aren't that great after all, not enough to support these three hours of "art cinema" I think.
Tricky to rate, because it's actually four short films... I thought two of them were fantastic - 4.5 or 5 star ratings (the 2nd and 3rd), but the others fell a little more flat for me. They had their moments, but ultimately felt a little too dry and I just wanted to get through them. Despite that, there was incredible cinematography throughout. The slow pans through beautifully composed sets and backdrops created great suspense and timing for the films.
The middle two pieces were stunning, to me. Definitely a different style of filmmaking than our modern sensibilities, but so compelling. Definitely some cultural significance to these stories that I'm not sure I fully caught, but they gave me a lot…
I love watching slow, experimental horror on late summer nights. I also love how Kaidan's horror is almost purely in the art direction and sound design, barely anything happens during these stories, but it's still terrifying. Almost every shot is a work of art, and the historical setting alone is worth a watch.
Feudal despair, erotic madness, in a 20 second shot, does Kobayashi leap frog Kurosawa on these fronts?... Yes... he does. Helped by black and white.
*Why must the Japanese filmmaker men be compared ceaselessly? Because something about the 'fronts' listed feels, distinctly, Japanese and male... for the men... perhaps. Paul Schrader?
"The Black Hair" and "The Woman of the Snow" were unreal, if a little overdone in the thematic department. "Hoichi the Earless" dragged on far too long but was ultimately rewarding. "In a Cup of Tea" was just kind of goofy and unnecessary. Overall set design was incredible (painted backdrops, physical sets, etc.), cinematography knocked it out of the park, and the score sounded like something Bobby Krlic would do.
This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
Movies that are slightly off.