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

My Photo
Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rampo Noir (2005)

Rampo Noir is a counterpoint to 3 Extremes, both being collections of short horror films by Asian directors. While 3 Extremes had several high-profile directors (Miike, Chan-Wook Park), Rampo Noir collects shorts based on the short stories of Japanese mystery/horror master Rampo, from less well-known directors, two of whom are directing their first film on this collection. All four (all featuring actor Asano Tadanobu, whom I remembered from a few Tsukamoto films) are intensely creepy and beautiful, in their own perverse ways, but each are very different, so I'll quickly run down each one.

The first, Mars Canal, is less than five minutes long, and almost completely silent. It details the disintegration of a relationship, with a brutal fight, and then the man waking up in silence in a deserted (eerily beautiful) landscape. It's highly conceptual, and strangely engrossing. I was left wanting more after the only few minutes. The second, Mirror Hell, completely changes directions, and is a modern Japanese noir-esque detective tale. Several women connected with a traditional tea house are found burned, always with a certain traditional mirror found at the scene of their death. Tadanobu is the detective in charge of the investigation, and the answer is pretty mystical and surreal. The third, Caterpillar, directed by Hisayasu Sato (I have a few films of his coming up in the queue soon!) also features Tadanobu as a detective (the same one?) who is loosely connected to the case of a woman whose husband has returned from a war badly burned and without limbs. She starts torturing him in order to amuse herself, with confusing consequences. This was actually my least favorite of the four, but I'm looking forward to more of from Sato in the future.

My most favorite was from first-time director Atsushi Kaneko, and boasts the best directing and the absolute best performance from Tadanobu. It is the story of a seriously socially awkward chaffeur, who breaks out in hives when he touches other people, who works for a hot young stage actress. He falls in love with her, and when he goes to tell her, she ends up killing her. From there, his grasp on reality slips even further away, and the line between his fantasy land with the actress and the reality of her decaying corpse becomes seriously blurred. Tadanobu is great as the chauffeur; he is seriously crazy and yet a little sympathetic, because he understands reality so little. Tamaki Ogawa, as the actress, is not only a great performance, but is so ridiculously photogenic that she makes the whole film more beautiful (see here for some stills I made, probably my favorite stills I've ever done) and ethereal. The film is beautiful, creepy, and downright frightening, all at the same time. The cinematography is actually breath-taking, and I seriously can't wait to see more from Kaneko (Even though imdb doesn't show any projects from him coming up).

Most of the comments I've read call this collection pretentious, but if you like arthouse, more abstract horror mixed with extremely violent and visceral images, I highly recommend it. All four films are excellent, and, in some ways, I prefer this collection to 3 Extremes (which I also loved).


RIYL: Takashi Miike, 3 Extremes

Labels: , , , ,

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Comments on "Rampo Noir (2005)"


post a comment