Posts Tagged ‘Takashi Miike’

“One Missed Call”: Taking a Break from the Awards Season

January 7, 2008

One Missed Call

After the movie this evening I sat in the dark theatre by myself waiting for the credits to finish. I had an eerie sense that something was under the seats and surrounding me in the darkness. But the five or six audience members around me had already left. Then as the credits were about done a shadowy figure arose in the front row, ambled slowly up the aisle towards me and I watched him pass out of the corner of my eye hoping that he wouldn’t rush me with a knife. In the car on the way home, rain covering my window I thought I saw a figure standing in the shadows, hit my windshield wipers and it was just a black metal grating on a door. I’m not going to say One Missed Call was a good movie, because it wasn’t. But at a certain point it started hitting the right buttons and left my common sense running from my imagination.

It’s like eating through most of a rotting apple before getting to a healthy core watching this film, and I had to eat through a lot of rot. I almost left. The healthy core comes from the fact that it is based on a Japanese film directed by prolific and effective Takashi Miike. He’s one of the directors I go to when I’m bored with the common movies that pour into our multiplexes on a weekly basis. He’s a master of the macabre and the surreal many times pushing envelopes I didn’t know existed. I go into greater detail about Miike here.

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Weekly Movie Update May 23- June 3: Depp, Paprika and Miike

June 4, 2007

As I sit here consciously avoiding any and all dairy so I can finally get over this infernal morphing sinus cold that I’ve had for a month, I’m taking the time to ruminate on the three most effective films I’ve seen this past week. And as different as they are they all tread on similar creative ground, that of the abstract and absurd.

I’ll begin with the experience that I look forward to most throughout the year. Those films that when you walk out of the theatre the world seems just a little more alive than it was when you stepped in. Colors are more vibrant, sounds more distinct and scents more aromatic. The world around you becomes almost hyper realistic. The film is Satoshi Kon’s “Paprika.” I show you this trailer (on the next page) safely knowing that the experience is saved for seeing the film itself.

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The Japanese Noir of Takashi Miike

August 10, 2006

For years I’ve observed and enjoyed Japanese cinema. My love began with “Rashomon” – a tale of a thief who robs a a traveling couple, rapes the wife, and several of them end up dead. The events are retold after the events have occurred and not just through a single source but through several sources at a trial (they even go so far as to have a medium call upon one of the deceased – and the deceased speaks through her in a crackling voice that heightens the unease) but the twist is, we’re not hearing the trial as it happens either, instead we’re hearing it passed on as gossip between three lower class men. Each time the tale is retold from a different witness during the trial we wonder how much of it is true and how much of it has been unintentionally rearranged by the men. The complexity and simplicity of the film that played out in front of me struck a deep nerve, and immediately after viewing it, I took it to several friends and made them watch it. I believe I watched it four times that day. Then came “Seven Samurai” and “Stray Dog”. The films of Kurosawa embedded themselves in my subconscious.

Then the films of Ozu came into my life, “Tokyo Story” and “A Tale of Floating Weeds” are truly two of the most magnificent and emotional films I have ever seen without bringing sentimentality into it. Ozu tells stories with such a matter-of-factness that he doesn’t need to add any extra dramatic elements to the stories or characters or camera (which typically avoids movement and stays planted directly in front of the actors as if we were sitting in front of them listening intently) – these characters simply exist, and are that much more powerful for it.

Now a new Japanese Director has entered into my conscious as a truly visionary filmmaker. That Director is Takashi Miike. It began, as it did with most American audiences, with “Audition”, a film much like “Misery” only more gut wrenchingly painful to watch. Where Rob Riener captured the Stephen King essence of sudden bursts of brutal violence and horror mixed with that over the top silliness that King brings to his yarns, Miike gives us a much more subtle and nuanced build, one that as we become more enveloped by the film, leaves us feeling that much more unnerved, until the car-wreck of an ending, where it was more hard to look away than watch. Truly horrifying. (more…)