• The Girl Next Door

    The Girl Next Door

    High school noir: A blonde trying to escape a sordid past meets a sexually frustrated, straight laced man and leads him to academic ruin. Pornography, drugs, and blackmail are involved as is a plot to smuggle an oriental genius into the country. Ultimately he learns that morality is a flexible notion; bad things need to happen for greater goods which he decides on.

  • Double Life

    Double Life

    The act of stalking, of watching someone who doesn't know they are being watched, can potentially be a humanist or existential pursuit. It can lead to a deeper understanding of another person, their faults evoking pity. In turn this could provide answers to the question of what it means to be human. Of course this is all a bit naive as it discounts the strong element of perversion inherent to stalking. The voyeur, through this act, appeals to something more…

  • Raise Your Arms and Twist - Documentary of NMB48

    Raise Your Arms and Twist - Documentary of NMB48

    A teenage girl reads passages of Nietzsche aloud as she rides a boat through some of the more industrial parts of Osaka. She’s not dolled up and the color of the cinematography has been muted to the point of grey-scale. This is Ririka Sutou, an up and coming member of the Osaka-based idol group NMB48. She is nineteen at the time of filming but looks as if she just reached the dawn of her teenage years. The juxtaposition is loud,…

  • Over Your Dead Body

    Over Your Dead Body

    If you fire a machine gun at a target you’re guaranteed at least one bulls eye. That is an adage often applied to filmmaker Takashi Miike, and to other filmmakers who put out a movie a year like Woody Allen. Unlike Allen though, Miike does multiple films a year to varying quality. What’s not accounted for is the strength of the Miike’s source material. Arguably one of his strongest works, Audition showcases Miike’s restraint, which doesn’t get much attention, and…

  • Director's Commentary: Terror Of Frankenstein

    Director's Commentary: Terror Of Frankenstein

    The DVD commentary track is a frontier open to narrative exploration and much like the video game let’s play not many have seen it as a device for storytelling. Sometimes an actor will do a commentary in character, mainly for laughs rather than some sort of self-reflexive narrative continuation for the character. The biggest problem with conveying a story through a commentary is that you need a film to begin with. MST3K works because those were real films they were…

  • 100 Yen Love

    100 Yen Love

    Judging from how itchy our protagonist’s backside is, she is an ultimate slacker. In her early thirties, Ichiko (the always amazing Sakura Ando (o.5mm review in Vol. 3)) lives with her parents, has no job, doesn’t help the family business, and in the opening scene beats her nephew mercilessly at video games. “Adults are supposed to go easy,” he says after her winning streak has passed 100. “Life isn’t fair” she replies. This is the viewpoint of Ichiko and of…

  • Wolf Girl and Black Prince

    Wolf Girl and Black Prince

    A rom-com starring Fumi Nikaido directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, what can go wrong? Manga, that's what could go wrong. It seems that no matter how skilled a filmmaker and how great of a cast, Japanese films adapted from a manga or anime seem to have a hard time being a decent film. Thanks to the production committee system the projects that have an easier time getting funded are those derived from established properties. With that being the case fan service…

  • Raman Raghav 2.0

    Raman Raghav 2.0

    The disparity between a film's original title and its international one can be amusing every now and then, especially when you are met with a title screen that clearly says one thing while the subtitles below adamantly hold their ground and state the international release title. Such was the case in this latest film from Anurag Kashyap (The Gangs of Wasseypur). The smaller sized text declared Psycho Raman while the blaring title screen, contained within one of the most visually…

  • After the Storm

    After the Storm

    Kore-eda doing his take on the detective genre. That should be reason enough to go see After the Storm, both a spiritual successor to Still Walking for the Hiroshi Abe/Kirin Kiki pairing as son/mother and to his recent Our Little Sister for the strong presence a deceased family member might have on their family, sometimes a bigger presence than when they were alive.

    Ryota (Abe) describes himself as an author though his first and only novel, an award winner, came…

  • Mifune: The Last Samurai

    Mifune: The Last Samurai

    Compared to the images actors of decades' past were able to cultivate, it's hard to name any true movie stars in this day and age. There are those who are box office magic and if social media followers are any indication have millions of fans, but there is something to be said about those whose talent and popularity made them icons. Today's culture of TMZ and Twitter produce an oversharing of an actor's private life, both unwilling and completely voluntary.…

  • The World of Us

    The World of Us

    If Nobody Knows taught us anything it is that being a child is not necesarilly the nostalgically good time it is remembered for, being just as complicated if not more so than adult living. And knowing how less sensational Kore-eda made that film compared to the real-like events it was based on, the social dynamics between children can be just as nuanced and cruel as the world of adults. The "us" of Yoon Ga-Eun's debut film refers to children, in…

  • Maverick

    Maverick

    Watching crime thrillers from around the world, two constants arise: politicians will be corrupt and there is always some newbie with a naïve heart who will challenge the status quo of corruption, usually butting heads with his superiors and stepping on toes in the process. That is the basic gist of this new police picture from Taiwan. In many ways if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all and know the two ways things will dénoue, but it’s reassuring to…