Jason has written 64 reviews for films with no rating.

  • Stranger

    Stranger

    Made as part of Toei’s straight-to-video V-cinema line, Shunichi Nagasaki brings a distinct voice to this cat and mouse thriller. While the commercial aspect is intact, steadily escalating in its action, the film avoids skin and favors psychological probing over physical.

    Kiriko (Yuko Natori) is a bank teller embezzling money from her work, in cahoots with her boyfriend. Almost immediately into the film she is caught and jailed. Once out she can only find work as a taxi driver, working…

  • Friend Request

    Friend Request

    When films use a facsimile of a computer screen in a 1:1 ratio with the frame of the film, a fascinating new territory of film language opens up (for more on this nonsense, here is a previous essay on the form). Web browser tabs are used for character backstory as can desktop wallpapers and folder/document names. Watching someone type and rewrite IMs or emails can be just as telling as when voice is used. There's potential here within what is…

  • Dragonfly Eyes

    Dragonfly Eyes

    If you fake reality, then reality is fake. Coming off the lips of a monk it's laughable, but said by the film this "koan" is almost an admittance of wasted effort. For anyone who makes it this far into artist Xu Bing's foray into feature filmmaking Dragonfly Eyes, this could either be infuriating that all of this effort, traversing thousands of hours of real surveillance footage to assemble a story a girl who leaves a monastery only to be eaten…

  • Rage

    Rage

    In Hachioji a married couple is murdered in their home. The crime scene is bathed in blood. The killer had dragged the bodies through the home, leaving the corpses in the bathroom. On a door 怒 is written in blood. Anger, fury. The deliberate and primal scrawling of the character make rage the more appropriate choice of translation.

    As the case drags on with no headway being made, a new lead is found that the killer received plastic surgery after…

  • Memoirs of a Murderer

    Memoirs of a Murderer

    If memory serves, Irie's Memoires of a Murderer acknowledges Jung Byung-gil's original film before anyone involved in the remake gets credited. Packed away in the opening montage, an audio-visual foreshadowing of the social media burst said murderer becomes the center of, is a noise-filled, nth generation video of text citing the Korean film.

    A serial killer publishes a memoir detailing the behind the scenes of his cases that went cold. Since they took place before the change in laws dealing…

  • Happiness

    Happiness

    Happiness is yet another in a long line of films with 'happiness' in the title that is not all that joyful. Its suggestion that your happiest memory and your most painful one is only a twist of a knob or a press of a button away is the film's guiding principle and ultimately a strong case is made for that being true.

    Masatoshi Nagase strands himself in a small town, letting himself off the bus with a metal box as…

  • She's the Boss

    She's the Boss

    A strict policy on inter-office dating sets the mood for two secret lovers to make the resolution of a company problem much more chaotic. Office manager Oanh (Miu Le) coldly enforces the policy, her "save the cat" moment being he forcing two young lovers to decide which one will leave the banking company they work for now that they've been found out. Secretly Oanh is dating subordinate Cuong (Do An). It's been going on for quite some now but that…

  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

    Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

    Too big to fail, small enough to jail. So is said about the fact that the only banking institution to be taken to court in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis was a small, family run bank that catered to the Chinatown community. It is the Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings who fight the charges in a five year legal battle against Manhattan's District Attorneys. The title makes the intent clear: that this was an act of…

  • The Net

    The Net

    While most of the Korean mainstays of the international circuit have found inspiration elsewhere, mainly colonial Japan, Kim Ki-duk has revisited the topic of North-South relations with his latest. The divided peninsula and the interactions between its halves provided more of a setting for The Coast Guard. Works that were more explicitly about this Kim had only worked on as writer like Red Family and he apparently provided the story for 2010 Song Kang-ho starring spy thriller Secret Reunion. The…

  • The Mayor

    The Mayor

    Despite being filmed in April of 2016, months before the shit really started to hit the fan for the now impeached Park Geun-hye, you would be hard pressed to find someone who won't draw comparisons between her countless scandals to the nearly two hours and thirty minutes worth of back-and-forths and back dealings found in director Park In-je's (2011's Moby Dick) political satire/thriller set during a mayoral election. The timely release of late April - the Presidential election is May…

  • The Blue Mountains: Part I

    The Blue Mountains: Part I

    In the midst of US Occupation, traces of outdated Japanese feudalism, and therefore its wartime militarism, were excised from films as determined by American censors. Filmmakers with leftist tendencies, supportive of democratization thrived (but not too left as certain films that revolved around workers' rights found out). Tadashi Imai's The Blue Mountains, divided into two parts and released within a week of one another, comes off as pandering to these occupied sensibilities if it were not for the performances (mainly…

  • Daughters, Wives and a Mother

    Daughters, Wives and a Mother

    If we accept the theory that there was some back and forth between Ozu and Naruse, a few interesting double bills emerge: 1955's Floating Clouds serving as competitive fuel for Ozu's Early Spring and Tokyo Twilight, his youth-focused, most rageful of his films; then between '61 and '62 there is a dual of the massive ensembles Daughters, Wives, and a Mother and Ozu's The End of Summer the following year. The Japanese marriage as depicted in these films finds a…