Posts Tagged ‘Satoshi Suzuki’



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 by: Toshio Lee  Written by: Satoshi Suzuki, Tamio Hayashi, Koji Kinjo (novel) Produced by: Mieko Fujiwara, Kei Haruna  Cinematography: Koichi Nakayama  Music: Coba  Cast: Takashi Okamura, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Hisashi Yoshozawa, Jun Kunimura, Atsuro Wataba, Mieko Harada, Masami Nagasawa

Toshio Lee’s first of at least two films released in 2010 (the other one being BOX!) is based on the autobiographical book of the same title by Koji Kinjo and tells the true story of a nerd and his wife who coincidentally become what today’s been called “environmentalists”. Kenji’s true love is the sea, especially the coral reefs; since his childhood he is fascinated by the ocean and spends every single minute possible by the water.

It is not surprising therefore that he fails as a professional: he regularly loses his jobs and hence leads a simple life together with his wife and kids. Kenji believes he could do many jobs, but at the end all he cares about is the sea. One day however he finds a way to turn his love for coral reefs into a business: he opens up a “coral bar”, a pub that showcases corals in a fish tank and aims to recreate the Okinawa sea. He calls the joint Bar Blue and quickly develops it into a successful franchise.

It comes as a shock to his family and friends when he decides to close down the bar business and instead wants to replant corals in nature. What got into him? Once again his passion gets in his way and all he dreams about is cleaning up the sea and breed corals. He starts with transplanting his Bar Blue corals into the ocean, but the more corals he plants the more resistance he meets from fishermen and politicians. While Kenji wants to preserve nature others want, or need, to exploit it. The conflicts of interest soon make big waves in the press and Kenji becomes something like a local hero, supported by many, disliked by even more.

His main idea becomes crucial for his undertaking: Kenji believes he can become the first person in the world to ever spawn coral reefs. Nobody has achieved this before, but Kenji thinks he can do it. Scientists quickly reveal his lack of method and are questioning his mission that is driven by little more than ambition and intuition. Kenji is facing the challenge of a lifetime: can he make corals spawn before he finally runs out of money, support and luck?

Forget AVATAR, watch SUNSHINE AHEAD instead. If you are looking for eco-conscious entertainment that’s authentic, absolutely not fabricated and free of clichés SUNSHINE AHEAD is the best choice in recent years. Even though it seems convenient to release the movie in times like these (the BP oil spill came later but once again proves that the movie’s timing is right), SUNSHINE AHEAD has absolutely nothing to do with calculated commercial moviemaking.

I have not read the novel but the storyline seems to stick to the real events as only a very few plot points hint at a basic dramaturgy that has little in common with conventional mainstream scripts. The movie has its ups and downs of course, yet it is going with the flow without being trivial. SUNSHINE AHEAD is very convincing as a movie with a message, but it also remains unpretentious from beginning to end.

Story aside, some of the movie’s footage features breathtaking images of nature that make us feel for the hero and his mission even more – SUNSHINE AHEAD may be a drama but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a cinematic experience. The movie is carefully framed and beautifully shot when it matters, and otherwise leaves it to the believable cast to make SUNSHINE AHEAD a really likable film.

SUNSHINE AHEAD is the best proof that a touching movie with a sincere message doesn’t require 3D. Also, it reminds us that despite the technological advancement all that matters is a great story. SUNSHINE AHEAD is a well-rounded, relevant movie that’s especially valuable for oil company executives.