Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Imprint (Takashi Miike, 2005)

This infamous, unaired episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror certainly is horrifying, but I also think it's an example of Takashi Miike - one of my favorite directors - at his most ridiculous. The story of an American journalist (a truly terrible performance by Billy Drago) who travels to Japan in order to marry the prostitute he promised he would come back for, only to find out that she's dead. Another prostitute, a woman with beautiful blue hair and a deformed face, tells him the story of how his beloved Komomo died, starting with a brutal but tolerable lie and moving to the horrific truth. The woman asks the journalist Christopher, before telling him the truth, why people want to know the truth so badly, why no one can ever been content with a more pleasant lie. This is the question Miike wants the audience to ask themselves after hearing the women's tale - wouldn't we have been happier with the lie?

The woman tell of working with Komomo, and, both because of her immense beauty and because she talked about her American lover, how she was tormented by the other women in the geisha house in which they both worked. The woman was Komomo's only friend, supposedly, and defended her from the attacks until one fateful day. The scene where Komomo is tortured is incredibly intense and painful to watch, even worse for me than anything from Audition or almost even Visitor Q. Unfortunately, the length and excess gore of the scene make it seem almost superfluous; the scene would have been more effective had we seen less, I believe. When the woman tells of her story, growing up with her abortionist mother and abusive father, the story becomes even more intense. There are plenty of fetuses deposited into the river, some of which are creepy, but others that are so fake looking to be silly.

The movie borders on silliness in its climax; without explicitly ruining it for those who haven't seen it (although there's no real twist ending, the twist comes more in the middle of the film), the special effect that goes to work on the woman's head is incredibly silly, so much so that I couldn't take it seriously. The movie is so intense as to be ridiculous at times, something I'd seen Miike work with before (such as in the superb Ichi the Killer), but always with a sense of humor that makes the ridiculous real. There is no humor in this movie, not even in the final scene, which is creepy, but again, a bit too much.

Before it sounds like I didn't like this movie, I must say that I do recommend it for fans of Miike or Masters of Horror, if only to see what was so controversial that Showtime refused to show it. It is pretty controversial, but almost for shock value at times. I can't really blame Miike for this, as he didn't write the script, but this is still a triumph for him if only because of how gorgeous and atmospheric it is. The prostitutes all have red hair and kimonos (except for the unnamed woman), and the scene where they are all sitting in the room together is heavenly in its use of color. The woman's blue hair is a radiant symbol throughout the film, and even during the silly parts, everything is so eerily beautiful.


RIYL: Audition

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