Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

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Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby A » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:36 am

Thanks for your review! Have been waiting for something new by Tsukamoto ever since his excellent "Snake of june" in 2002. Glad to hear the film is good.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:16 am

I'm also anxiously awaiting this one. Looks like the DVD comes out in Dec.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby trevor826 » Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:36 pm

The worlds gone mad, Miike's gone Hollywood and for what? Another crappy Halloween film, I honestly don't think that Miike and Hollywood are compatible and although I've described him as a jobbing director, I can't for the life of me understand why he'd work on a franchise that should have been buried after John Carpenters original film.

Miike - Halloween Retribution IMDB

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby A » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:20 am

Wow, that sounds like reaLLY WEIRD STUFF. I can't believe my eyes... Miike and Hollywood???? What the @#%$! I hope he didn't sink so low on his own decision, but was bound by some evil contract or curse or whatever, maybe he had lots of gambling-debts and needed the money.
Honestly i think this might turn out one of the worst movies ever. Or maybe it will be just mediocre, and forgotten soon.
Who knows, I'm perplexed.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby wpqx » Sat Nov 05, 2005 1:30 am

What's more amazing is that they're still making Halloween films, I mean Christ let it die, it's not like ANYBODY liked the last one, or 7 for that matter.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Nov 05, 2005 4:47 pm

I'm looking forward to it.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby trevor826 » Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:45 pm

The Bird People in China (199 Chgoku no chjin

Directed by Takashi Miike

Starring Masahiro Motoki (Shall we dansu?) Renji Ishibashi (DOA) Mako

A film of two very distinctive halves, the first part being the journey.

Wada, a Japanese businessman is travelling to the Chinese province of Yun Nan to check out an area rich in Jade, at first he is stalked but then accompanied by a psychotic Yakuza, Ujiie. Wadas Company happens to be in debt to his gang and hes come to collect.

The first part of the journey is from plane to overpacked train, once off the train Wada contacts the man who will guide him on the next stage. This is also where Ujiie makes his bullish entrance; he comes across as a caricature of a "Yakuza Heavy" and provides some moments of comic relief.

They continue the journey in a dilapidated rickety van that starts falling apart until it eventually collapses, from there a comical looking truck is put into use, even more ramshackle than their previous transport, the handheld camera gives a good idea of how genuinely bumpy the ride is. Having reached a flooded river, they have to continue on foot.

Some will scoff at this but whereas previously it felt like some sort of wacky race with the assortment of collapsing wrecks they had to use, now it feels more and more like a Japanese/Chinese Aguirre. From the arduous trekking up mountains totally at the mercy of nature to the journey by raft up river with a psycho in tow (there is the fantasy element of the raft being pulled by several large turtles).

The journey is full of incident and they eventually end up lost in the middle of nowhere, luckily they spot people in the distance who turn out to be from the village that has found the rich vein of Jade, thus their journey ends.

The second part, the village.

Set high in the mountains, amidst breath taking scenery the travellers set up camp. They are intrigued on seeing a large group of children running around with wings on and even more intrigued on hearing the legend of Bird People. Ujiie in particular takes an interest in this legend and they watch the children being taught the movements by one of the young women from the village. There is something strange about her as well, despite the obvious fact that she is Chinese, she has blue eyes, along with which she sings a song that turns out to be in a form of English. All these strange mysteries, the simplicity of rural life and the heady atmosphere alter the reasoning of the Japanese, Ujiie in particular.

They are about to head back to Tokyo when Ujiie intentionally sabotages their transportation. He has found something that has given him purpose in his life apart from the idea of hurting other people. He wants to keep the land free from the industrialisation and development that would surely follow once they took news of the Jade back. Wada makes a deal with him that could guarantee peace for the village, they will attempt to fly following the training methods of legend, if they can fly, Ujiie will get his peace, if not, well theyll probably end up dead so no matter anyway.

The pacing of the journey is fun and frenetic unfortunately the same cant be said for the time spent in the village, the change in pace is too much and the second half of the film lags. The message of the film is obvious in the fact that we need to be more ecologically minded and not turn the mystery and beauty of the world into an industrial wasteland.

A worthy effort, very different from the films that Miike is renowned for and just a shame that the pacing couldnt have been better, cutting 10-15 minutes off would have made a huge difference. So not a failure but not quite the success it could have been either.

Worthy of a rental just to see a different side to Miikes work.

Cheers Trev.

No BBFC rating but probably 12.

R1 ntsc dvd available from Artsmagic. Various R3 ntsc dvds available.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby hengcs » Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:51 pm

I have watched this film quite some time ago ...
What attracted me was really the poster ... hiaks hiaks ...

I thought the initial humor was typical of many Japanese movies
... Also, there are some exaggerated acting/expressions and maybe events
... However, the story became more thought provoking in the second half ...

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby trevor826 » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:15 pm

I've got to be fair, the scenery around the village is some of the most outstandingly beautiful I've seen, truly stunning.

You're right about the exagerated acting as well particularly from the Yakuza thug, this is typical especially for this type of character in Japanese cinema.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - The Modern Cult Directors.

Postby A » Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:18 pm

Ok, since I just got to see one of Miike's latest films yesterday - you can never be sure which one exactly is his latest - and I have (again) 20 minutes left until the next screening, I thought I'll write down some lines.

46 Oku nen no koi Big Bang Love, Juvenile A
(2005 / Japan / Takashi Miike)

Miike's "Big Bang Love, Juvenile A" was shown yesterday in the Panorama section for the last time at the Berlin Film Festival, and some audience members may have not been prepared for what was coming. This film isn't one of Miike's more inventive or stunning films, but one of his more compact and initially more coherent outings, though there is still plenty experimentation to awe the casual moviegoer.
Set in an undefinable place and space it is a Parabel on the power of love and a reflection on current Japanese society. The original Japanese titel means literally translated "460 Million Years of Love" and refers to the time segment in which life has been developing in our solar system. As one may deduct from this title, what Miike does imo, is that he tries to identify life with love, meaning that the "reason" why man exists, the things that can in the end redeem him and make a life worthwhile - no matter how it has been lived - is love. Miike thus comments on a very spiritual level about the human existence, but places his inquiry like many times before in extreme conditions.

Two juvenile delinquents who have been charged for murder are being sent to prison, where almost the entire narrative (besides some flashbacks) takes place. They are Aryoshi Yun a seemingly fragile and timid youth, and Katzuki Shiro who at first glance appears to be very similar, but is more like the other side of a coin. Being very athletic and seemingly self-assured, he is nevertheless haunted by his past. Both guys are presented with homosexual undertones, but nothing is ever explicitly stated. If a love relationship or a deep friendship develops is up to the viewer, but both persons lives become intertwined in this fateful encounter. While the agressive Katsuki seems to protect Aryoshi it is Aryoshi who is at times presented as a christ-like figure and who in the end "saves" Katzuki's life through death.
In one of the most haunting scenes of the film (and believe me, the film has many), a blue ray of light emerges from a peeping-hole through which Aryoshi has been gazing out of the cell and pierces him right through the heart. This motive is repeated in two dream-like segments that show him holding his chest where at the place of his heart a trickle of blood is leaking out. In fact the whole film has a circling structure, with several key scenes being repeated from different angles throughout it. One device to make this structure plausible plot-wise, is the investigation of the murder of Katzuki as one layer of the film. The policemen assigned to this case question the prisoners and wardens numerous times to find out the truth. But the two main characters - and with them Miike - are also in search of the truth, though their journey leads to a destination which the mathemathical procedures of the judicial investigation could never produce.
It is in these interview-scenes that Miike's intentions first become obvious, when he doesn't give us a traditional questoning scene with the commited cop trying to find out the truth, but instead adresses the viewer directly. The interviewees are presented facing the camera in frontal position and answering the questions directly into it. A further intimacy between them and the viewer is established through the employment of superimposed intertitles that keep silently asking the investigators' questions, thus further bluring the dividing line to the viewer and making us wonder where these questions are actually coming from, and what their exact aim could be. A questioning of the truth which in the end leads the viewer to assume an existential crisis. And Miike shows us that although the cops have filed the case, their results don't offer any satisfying answers.

The Film is beautifully photographed with an expressive color palette and a lighting that mostly keeps the backgrounds clouded in the deepest black. Maybe this was also due to production restraints, but Miike creates a virtue out of this enforced theatricality, finding a stylistic sureness that is impressive. In one scene (see screencap above) we are presented with a wide angle shot that shows us the prison from a bird's eye view, with the cells chalked on the ground, creating a claustrophobic image that isn't simply a reference to von Trier's recent usage of the same device, but stands in the films stylistics firmly on its own. In other scenes, Miike creates a surreal and dream-like atmosphere, when he shows us the two protagonists amidst a rocket launch pad or what appear to be two aztec pyramids. The use of fragmented space and time opens up places for the viewer to contemplate the films rich offerings.
Hopefully more people will be attracted to Miike's world, with this fascinating portrait of imprisonment, an imprisonment that is extended to all of society and can be only broken through the mind. It is in these moments of freedom that love is created.


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