Posts Tagged ‘Tatsuya Fujiwara’



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.









And here’s SHALL WE DANCE for Generation 2010: Shinpei has promised the sister of his ex-high school love that one they would dance together in the Yosakoi festival, where he once performed as flag carrier for the Ichimujin team. But 5 years have passed, and now Sakura is terminally ill, but what else could be her last wish than Shinpei keeping his promise?

Tear-jerker or heartfelt story, you decide – directed by Hideyuki Katsuki, starring, Junpei Mizobata, Haruka Kinami, Shunji Igarashi, Ayane Omori, Daigo, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Hirotaro Honda, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Daisuke Ryu, Masahiro Takashima and Reiko Takashima.




JAPAN 2009  Directed by: Toya Sato  Manga by: Noboyuki Fukumoto Written by: Mika Omori Cinematography: Katsumi Yanagijima Music: Yugo Kanno Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Teruyuki Kagawa, Taro Yamanoto, Yuki Amami, Ken Mitsuishi, Kei Sato, Suzuki Matsuo

Another manga-turns-video game-turns-movie movie, this time based on Noboyuki Fukumoto’s bestseller: KAIJI is the perfect film for gambling-obsessed Japan and turns out to have just the right mixture of zero-to-hero story, fan boy appeal and dark drama to fascinate a large crowd of moviegoers.

Loser Kaiji has to repay a dept and in lack of cash is offered the only way out: to board a cruise ship and take part in the ultimate gambling night that may see him cleared of all dept or spending the rest of his life as slave. Kaiji, whose life sucks anyhow decides to dare all and joins the cruise, not knowing what terrifying rollercoaster ride lies ahead.

Without giving away too much of the twists and turns of KAIJI I can say that the film is quite clever in leading the audience step by step into the next trap by primarily following Kaiji and only scarcely offering some hints about what’s actually going on here. The movie keeps the momentum from beginning to end and despite changes of mood and tone throughout is a gripping tale of winners and losers and the morale that makes even loser winners.

At times KAIJI is leaning too much towards some Nike-Darwinism: winning is everything, participating is nothing. You don’t win silver, you lose gold. But then KAIJI discovers the deeper meaning of winning and presents are more intellectual perspective on its subject. KAIJI nevertheless reflects the Japanese pursuit of success, a way of life that is characterized by hardship and drawbacks, but most of all by a glorious happy end where the winner takes it all. KAIJI, just as gambling, fits the Japanese mentality very well.

KAIJI THE MOVIE would have benefited from spending more time on the character and past of Kaiji though: it is not entirely clear why Kaiji does what he does, the manga was clearly sharper and made Kaiji’s path more plausible. If the movie has a key weakness then that’s the character development of the hero, most of all his indulgence of his own little tricks, more and more he turns into an arrogant jerk, luckily his opponents are worse so we rather stick with him – despite Fujiwara’s overacting.

What makes KAIJI worth watching all issues aside is the way we are dragged through the shit just like the hero without knowing what’s going to happen next, a pretty dark side that is a more commercial variation of BATTLE ROYALE and the sub-genre of rich-people-pay-to-see-you-dying, the fragment of an epic story that creates a parallel universe underground, and one of the greatest fuck yous in a long time (Teruyuki Kagawa is hilarious repeating Kitano’s role as MC and villain).

KAIJI is satisfying diverse expectations of a diverse audience without kissing ass, and it’s probably therapeutic for those gambling away all their money in a pachinko parlor. KAIJI may not be the best of all manga adaptations, nor the best film of its kind, but it’s creative and surprisingly sinister entertainment that well deserves two hours of our time.