Posts Tagged ‘Satomi Ishihara’



JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Hideo Nakata Written by: Satoshi Suzuki  Novel by: Honobu Yonezawa Cinematography by: Junichiro Hayashi  Editing by: Nobuyuki Takahashi  Music by: Kenji Kawai  Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Aya Hirayama, Shinji Takeda, Satomi Ishihara, Tsuyoshi Abe, Nagisa Katahira, Kinya Kitaoji, Yuki Himura, Daisuke Kikuta, Yuki Furukawa, Takuro Ohno

Ten people are promised a dream job that pays them 1,200 US$ per hour. All they need to do is join an experiment and stay in a remote underground facility for 7 days – and survive. Because as soon as they arrive a murderous game begins and the facility turns into a true paranoid house where everyone distrusts everyone else – who will make it out alive and rake in the big bucks?

If that all sounds pretty familiar to you, you probably have watched KAIJI, LIAR GAME, DEATH TUBE or the mother of all death game movies, BATTLE ROYALE, before (and if you have ever seen the brilliant CLUE with Tim Curry, you will notice how much the detective plot in THE INCITE MILL reminds of its dramaturgy). THE INCITE MILL is a movie that not only comes surprisingly late, but is also surprisingly unspectacular: with a story so hackneyed you should expect Mr. Nakata to step up the game, or at least add his own touch of horror to the film. But neither is the case with THE INCITE MILL: instead of a top-notch fright fest we are confronted with a movie that is listless and astonishingly mediocre by comparison.

Now the question is if we should be surprised really. After Takashi Shimizu’s flop THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D also the former master of Japanese terror cinema presents a lackluster update of his original work (choosing a similar visual mood and tone as seen in SHOCK LABYRINTH, by the way). When Mr. Nakata shocked the world with THE RING many believed he was the apostle of a new wave of horror cinema, when in fact he largely profited from the fact that western horror was de facto inexistent at that time. The genre had worn itself out, and audiences worldwide were waiting for a fresh impetus that would revive the comatose patient.

More than anything THE RING marked the return to real horror (no Mr. Raimi, despite that marketing tagline DRAG ME TO HELL did not), scaring the living hell out of us with virtually nothing. It’s all in the mind; and that’s what true horror has probably always been about. But what fans and critics shouldn’t have attributed to Mr. Nakata is great filmmaking: with every subsequent work he (just like fellow filmmaker Mr. Shimizu) stuck to the formula that never was a formula in the first place, but fortune that favored the bold (or maybe just plain luck); or, he began to make movies that were anything but interesting, or genuine. Just right now he is doing it again: THE INCITE MILL and CHATROOM are like twins, and they both add nothing to what other filmmakers have done years ago and better.

THE INCITE MILL is a low-budget flick, a commodity that looks like a commodity, a classic detective story that tries to fit into the world of online broadcasts and vicious games run by voices from the off and scary puppets. For a detective story, it is simply too predictable, for a terror movie not scary enough, and for a slasher the violence is too harmless. We have all noticed that THE INCITE MILL is the 50th anniversary project commenced by Horipro (all actors are contracted by Horipro), however that does not excuse being too late with a subject like this, and doing too little to make up for it.

With grand gestures that have no meaning and an increasingly confusing plot the movie gambles away the least bit of its credibility towards the end. THE INCITE MILL is not exceptionally boring, but far from being exceptional. As a matter of fact, it remains below any standard from beginning to end. Seems like those who once resurrected the horror genre are now burying it once again.









JAPAN 2010  Directed & Produced by: Genjiro Arato Written by: Osamu Dazai (novel) Cast: Toma Ikuta, Yusuke Iseya, Satomi Ishihara, Eiko Koike, Maki Sakai, Shinobu Terajima, Shigeru Muroi, Renji Ishibashi, Go Morita, Michiyo ookusu, Yoshiko Mita

Yozo Oba, born into a very wealthy family in Tsugaru, never really seems to fit in since his childhood. For many years he plays by the rules however, keeping up the façade of someone who fulfills the expectations of his family, friends and society. Once grown up however Yozo’s behavior gets more and more eccentric, fuelled by the early predictions of his classmate Dakeichi who tells him that he will be very popular with women and become a painter.

Once Yozo has moved to Tokyo to attend high school things get worse as he finds Tokyo being a place of slovenly life, drowning him in endless nights of alcohol and affairs, also thanks to a strange new friend, Horiki, who is six years older than him and lives life in the fast lane. Yozo’s own life is spinning out of control as the more he gets sick of himself the more he indulges in self-destructive behavior. The bars of Tokyo become his new home, women with no name his company and his art his only true love, which remains unfulfilled however as he never gets the recognition that he thinks he deserves.

Osamu Dazai’s quasi-autobiographical novel is heavily influenced by the depression of the (pre-)WWII era, even though in the beginning it primarily tells us about Yozo’s alienation as a child and his inability to socialize ever since. With him moving to Tokyo the environment changes fundamentally and that’s also when the world war has an increasing influence on the mood and tone of THE FALLEN ANGEL.

It is that Yozo’s own state of mind reflects the state of the nation, its ambitions as well as its failure and desperation. This connection between Yozo and everyone else – a surreal connection between someone entirely disconnected from the world and society –is the movie’s often overlooked true strength. Yozo and all of Japan are like mirrors, equal in terms of hopelessness and isolation, finding their reality on the brink of collapse, just for different reasons. Yozo as well as Japan have robbed themselves of a future and now indulge in their own downfall.

Whatever leads to this point however is less accomplished than the second half or last third of the movie. Yozo, played by popular Japanese idol Toma Ikuta, mostly doesn’t seem to be more than a pathetic poster boy, a superficial mannequin without depth, dwelling on platitudes most of the time. We never really feel him being a talented artist, or a real lady-killer for that matter. Toma Ikuta is quite believable as the misfit (some say he is actually miscast), but in view of lack of personality it never seems plausible why the ladies would fall for him or why anyone should care about his weepy torment.

Dazai’s novel was considered to be impossible to film, but Arato most certainly has taken a good look at DEATH IN VENICE and figured if this brilliant and at least equally complex and hard to film novel can be successfully adapted then NINGEN SHIKKAKU can be done as well. He has however not taken some key points into consideration.

First of all, that he is not the new Luchino Visconti. Nobody is. No one ever will be. Secondly, that the tragic hero is not the pretty boy, but the old writer played by Dirk Bogarde whose character is much more mature and hence his actions are so much more tragic and believable. Yozo however never gets past the pretty-face-stage, and it is amazing how much he reminds us of Tadzio in DEATH IN VENICE when instead he should be reminding us of the Bogarde character.

It is really hard not to compare THE FALLEN ANGEL with Visconti’s film as almost everything looks like a carbon copy of DEATH IN VENICE. The pace, the mood, the sound, the scenes by the water, the subtext of homosexuality. By comparison DEATH IN VENICE plays in an entirely different league, and that undoubtedly leaves THE FALLEN ANGEL with a me-too stigma.

THE FALLEN ANGEL, while featuring some solid moments, never really sheds light on the human condition, but is stuck with the condition of its protagonist that is of very little value for the rest of us. The only real effect THE FALLEN ANGEL has on the audience is that it, consequently, leaves us with a feeling of emptiness once the lights in the theatre are switched on.




Most certainly not the last entry in the ever ongoing ZATOICHI movie series is Junji (AEGIS) Sakamoto’s ZATOICHI THE LAST – even they insist that after this 29th movie it’s really over.

This time Zatoichi is on the best way to lead a normal life with his wife when once again he is challenged and has to fight against the enemies. Starring are Shingo Katori, Satomi Ishihara, Takashi Sorimachi, Chieko Baisho, Tatsuya Nakadai, Susumu Terajima and Sosuke Takaoka. Release date is end of May.