Chris has written 62 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Pornostar

    Pornostar

    ★★★★

    Violent pessimism washes over Toshiaki Toyoda's strikingly dingy feature debut which inventively uses one man's psychotic path of aimless destruction to shine a light on the emptiness spreading throughout an entire generation. Similarly to many other Japanese films from the time, the economic disparity and social unrest that had been simmering away in the country during the previous decade plays a crucial role in shaping the bruised outlook; for people like the unhinged Arano (played with chilling intensity by Chihara…

  • Fireworks

    Fireworks

    ★★★★

    Without having to alter his trademark stylistic choices too significantly, Takeshi Kitano turns this crime drama into a deeply contemplative and humane look at people resigned to accepting the cruel hand they've been dealt. Former detective Nishi is submerged in despondency, reeling from a tragedy on the job and his wife's terminal illness, to the point where reckleness and violence become a natural reaction to help alleviate his overwhelming anguish. His turmoil is an effective depiction of someone succumbing to…

  • Boiling Point

    Boiling Point

    ★★★★

    I'm usually indifferent to the whole 'one-shot' gimmick, but this is an occassion where it proves to be a very effective technique in capturing the simmering tension that slowly rises to the surface when working in a demanding restaurant environment. Such a set-up allows it to weave together numerous overlapping plot threads which can all seamlessly become a focal point whenever necessary, always finding a way to naturally circle back to the various personal and professional problems head chef Andy…

  • Gemini

    Gemini

    ★★★★

    Gemini is a fascinating deviation for Shinya Tsukamoto compared to his efforts prior, a strangely sinister period piece about a respected doctor whose family life is dismantled by an uncanny lookalike with whom he shares a cryptic connection. Notably lighter on chaotic flourishes and heavier on chilling atmosphere, it steadily provides small details and hints until the bigger picture becomes clear which creatively aligns with the plots focus on duplicity. It deftly tackles both class division and identity, particularly the…

  • Tokyo Fist

    Tokyo Fist

    ★★★★

    By utilising boxing as a method to find alleviation from the mental anguish and disillusionment that modern living causes, Shinya Tsukamoto is able to turn unbridled aggression into a compelling anti-capitalist statement. The systems we've created to waste our lives on are innately empty and will fall to pieces with the slightest disruption, so the only way to combat the overwhelming despondency is through transforming the emotional pain into physical fury that can be inflicted onto others and mutilating oneself…

  • Ichi the Killer

    Ichi the Killer

    ★★★★

    Certainly lives up to its infamous reputation. An anarchic crime-horror-farce amalgamation that is filled to the very brim with disturbing notions and bloodstained images, depicting every social taboo imaginable in unflinching detail by using a Yakuza plotline to probe the all-encompassing nature of violence through a back and forth conflict between two unhinged individuals who have opposite reactions to the pain they inflict. What stops it from merely becoming a distasteful gorefest is the fact that Takashi Miike wholeheartedly embraces…

  • Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole

    ★★★★

    Exceedingly vitriolic stuff from Billy Wilder, delving into the darker aspects of human nature through unscrupulous journalist Chuck Tatum who only sees opportunity in what should be tragedy when he manipulates a caving accident in order to thrust himself into the limelight. He acutely represents the ruthless attitude needed for those relaying the news if they wish to reach the top of the ladder. They inhabit a world fuelled by backhanded deals, incessant greed and the constant fear of irrelevancy…

  • To the Ends of the Earth

    To the Ends of the Earth

    ★★★★

    Social alienation plagues reporter Yoko as she's sent to journey around Uzbekistan for her lightweight TV show; any expectation that a sense of freedom can be attained in a foreign land proves futile when each wonder discovered is shrouded in apathy or uncertainty, resulting in her slipping further into dissociation. She cannot shake the existential fear that she's a stranger in her own mind, unable to discern who she really is or if she'll ever find a place to belong.…

  • Creepy

    Creepy

    ★★★★

    While this may lack the formidable dread that made Kiyoshi Kurosawa's earlier horror-tinged works so impactful, his meticulous direction and thematic interest in social malaise remain just as gripping. The story concerns an ex-profiler and his wife trying to start afresh, swiftly splitting into two overlapping threads as he's drawn to an unsolved murder case and she's intrigued by their oddball neighbour. It proves to be a clever set-up since the darkness found in the investigation begins to spread to…

  • Séance

    Séance

    ★★★★

    Once a cycle of deception commences it becomes increasingly difficult to control, something a psychic housewife discovers when her existential fear that normality means irrelevance drives her to convince her husband to use a kidnapping incident for their own gain and inadvertently dismantles the vacant life they've built. This is a morality tale where every dishonest action and selfish thought is haunted by shadows from just beyond the characters peripheral vision, stalking them in the places that should be the…

  • Pulse

    Pulse

    ★★★★

    Equally unsettling and melancholy in the way it portrays isolation leading to all-encompassing despair. This is a ghost story where the anguish remains even after death, a collective malaise represented by a suicide epidemic that causes the deceased to continue existing with their oppressive sorrow intact and infect those still living. The emptiness seems to be inescapable, dooming everyone to an afterlife where loneliness becomes eternal. What's so chilling is that the world displayed is already in a decaying state…

  • Eyes of the Spider

    Eyes of the Spider

    ★★★★

    The companion piece to Serpent's Path which dispenses with the actual revenge taking early on and instead places focus on the mystifying emptiness that arrives in the aftermath. Show Aikawa stars once again as a man who carries out his warped justice and finds that it hasn't brought him any closer to finding catharsis, something that makes his return to a seemingly ordinary lifestyle feel totally meaningless. He swiftly finds himself swept into a peculiar criminal syndicate and from there…