Archive for the ‘Serious Film Actor Kimura’ category

Film Review: I Come with the Rain (2008)

March 15, 2010

I Come with the… PAIN!!!

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Josh Hartnett, Lee Byung-hun, Kimura Takuya, Shawn Yue, Trần Nữ Yên Khê, Elias Koteas

Written and directed by Tran Anh Hung / Central Films, 2008

In a Nutshell:
Kline, an ex-L.A. cop turned PI, is hired by a reclusive Asian tycoon to track down his missing son Shitao. While on assignment, a fresh lead takes Kline from the mountain hinterlands of the southern Philippines to the backstreets and fringes of Hong Kong, where he seeks the help of Meng Zi, an old acquaintance from his law enforcement days. But the tortuous trail that leads to the elusive Shitao unexpectedly intersects with three other characters: the sadistic crime boss Dong-po, his heroin-addicted girlfriend Lili, and the dead serial killer Hasford, who continues to haunt the already fraying Kline through dreams of his gruesome murders.

(SpoilLert: There Will Be Blood!!!)

They say that pain is beauty, and beauty pain… or something like that. Such is the central thesis of French-Vietnamese auteur Tran Anh Hung’s latest art house oeuvre, the psychological thriller I Come with the Rain. This dualism between pain and beauty is not lost on the viewer as the first scene unfolds: a flashback showing then detective Kline’s (Josh Hartnett) final face-off with Hasford (Elias Koteas), the serial killer and self-styled artist he has overzealously hunted (and studied) for 27 months. Surrounded by Hasford’s grotesque installation sculptures — made even more grotesque by the fact that he uses, um, actual body parts of his victims, eew — Kline gets bludgeoned, then bitten by a lugubrious Hasford, who views his macabre “masterpieces” as objects of artistic — and even spiritual — fervor.

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Suffering as a religious experience, creating beauty from butchery, the agony and the ecstasy of living in this world — these are the main themes that I Come with the Rain gorges on, then later spews up on the viewer with as much subtlety and finesse as the hammer blows that the crime boss Dong-po (Lee Byung-hun) rains on a henchman who has failed him at one point in the story. The path that this film takes you on is a veritable via dolorosa where every turn, every corner is an exercise in the glorification of Pain in all its incarnations — the pain of dismembering victims for a psycho-artist’s portfolio, the pain of drug addiction and withdrawal, the pain of manifesting spontaneous lacerations and other stigmata while absorbing the suffering of others, the pain of a mind still tormented by grisly memories of the past. But as a viewer you wonder which is a more excruciating experience: the traumatic throes the main characters undergo, or having to sit through all 115 minutes while battling apathy and insensibility. Hasford tells Kline at the start of the story: “Jesus is in agony… till the end of the world.” Um, I beg to disagree. It’s the viewer who’s in mind-numbing agony until the end of this film — and how! (Lol)

Enter the Wheel of Torture! Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

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Film Review: Bushi no Ichibun / Love and Honor (2006)

November 9, 2009

Still Life, Samurai-Style

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Dan Rei, Bando Mitsugoro, Sasano Takashi, Kobayashi Nenji, Momoi Kaori, Ogata Ken

Co-written and directed by Yamada Yoji / Shochiku Eiga, 2006

In a Nutshell:

Samurai Mimura Shinnojo and his wife Kayo find their comfortable life in disarray after a taste-testing session gone awry leaves Mimura blind — and unemployed. But as the two face an uncertain future in Tokugawa Japan, their relationship takes a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse.


(SpoilLert: Everything major! Proceed at your own risk!!!)

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Hmmm… Well… <how do I say this?> I think I came into this movie expecting two hours of unabated swordplay and bloodshed. What I didn’t expect was a domestic drama with just 9 minutes of kendo training and one short duel near the end. I told my best friend about it and she replied (having also seen the film), “That’s exactly what Yamada Yoji is known for in Japan, his movies (Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade) are very slice of life. He doesn’t glamorize the samurai but shows them as real, ordinary folk.”

Maybe I’m still not a sophisticated enough viewer (and jidaegeki connoisseur) to appreciate the deglamorized, quieter side of the warrior class in feudal Japan. Maybe I’ll always be THAT kind of viewer, the one that pops a chanbara movie into their DVD player and beats their chest, bellowing, “I want my savagery and gore! I want my katana blades gleaming crimson with blood! I want my epic duels to the death! I want my spewed guts and decapitated corpses littering the wayside! For love, for daimyo, for courage, for honor!” Hahaha. Believe me, if I had wanted to see a bunch of samurai sitting around all day and talking about the weather or how many kokus of rice they were getting that year, I would have watched a frikkin’ History Channel documentary instead, durrr.

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Oh, all right, whatever, so maybe being a samurai isn’t ALL about killing people, lol. *roll eyes* Fine, I get that now, this film is supposed to depict the mundanity of life, even for this elite military caste. (And besides, if I had gotten my way, the producers would’ve had to change the movie’s title from Love and Honor, to Blood and Horror, heh heh.) But — oh, what a dull and senseless existence, to live and die by your liege lord’s leave. Still, you have to appreciate the stateliness and formality with which these samurai would conduct their affairs. There’s an austere beauty to this ancient culture that is even mirrored in the clean lines (and eco-friendly building materials, heh) of their abodes. But their feudal tradition is a two-edged sword, and as an observer of that time you do not fail to notice how a lot of it is just empty (though very elaborate) ritual, dictated by a social order so crushingly confining.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!