• The Wicked City

    The Wicked City

    ★★★★½

    I've really loved the Wicked City anime ever since I first saw it this October. But this Tsui Hark produced, and apparently largely ghost-directed, remix of the original light novel source material into a heavy-handed allegory for Hong Kong's anxieties in the 90s is truly something else. Goes light on plot so it can go heavy on its images, somehow its politics ended up involving creative decisions as bonkers as the best parts of The Seventh Curse. They really did…

  • Fruits of Passion

    Fruits of Passion

    ★★★★½

    Terayama at his most bitter and melancholic. Trying his hand at a European novel adaptation but transporting it's setting to the under-represented Canton Uprising so that the source material has a narrative foil in class politics. Unsurprisingly novelistic then, but I'm a little baffled by how many people don't see the same literary ambitions Terayama seems to reach for. His typically surrealism isn't missing, it's filtered through affecting S&M imagery and those with a keener eye might spot the places…

  • Pastoral: To Die in the Country

    Pastoral: To Die in the Country

    ★★★★★

    So that's what it took. Three years of a Terayama obsession, milling over this one to death for me to realise that it's perfect. Terayama's most cohesive film. When compared to Throw Away Your Books, it's up to you to decide if that's for better or for worse.

  • Grass Labyrinth

    Grass Labyrinth

    ★★★★½

    On rewatch I found this, unexpectedly, to be the most Borgesian of Terayama's longer works. It's like his version of The Garden of Forking Paths, until it is not with its truly exceptional dream sequence that is, as I have said before, a highlight of his career. Catching this on a beat 35mm print was special, there's a certain tactility to such experiences, an immediacy from being in the room. I should note that the faded colours did lack some of the depth and richness that the available digital scans provide.

  • Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

    Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

    ★★★★★

    It's hard to put to words how important this film is to me. I first saw it three years ago, starting what would become a minor obsession with Shūji Terayama that, along the way, profoundly shaped both my tastes in and my attitudes toward art. This is all going to sound so hyperbolic but the way I tend to appreciate film; deemphasising narrative, drawing out sensation (meaning everything tactile, rhythmic, in-motion) as its aesthetics; has parts of its origins here.…

  • Private Collections

    Private Collections

    ★★½

    Watched this for Terayama's short and, lo and behold, its actually just Grass Labyrinth but dubbed over with English narration and mixed in such a way that J.A. Seazer's score gets little attention. Ruins what I think is one of Terayama's best works which is its most egregious crime. It's other crimes are that the Borowczyk and Jaeckin shorts are both dull.

  • Video Letter

    Video Letter

    ★★★★

    Tanikawa and Terayama on semiotics and hermeneutics. There isn't much of a thesis here, rather it is about two artists (both frequent poets) working through some unanswerable questions about art by means of visual play. Somewhere in between archival documentary and video collage, one sees much mirrored visually and thematically from René Magritte as the two think and jest. There are flavours of M.C. Esher and others from the West also.

  • Eternals

    Eternals

    ★★★★

    Chad Squidward looking mf-er shows up 🤪

  • The Woman with Two Heads

    The Woman with Two Heads

    ★★★½

    A life,
    half in light,
    half in shadow.

  • Dead End Run

    Dead End Run

    ★★★½

    Ishii's upgraded Shuffle. Dispensing almost entirely with dialogue and narrative/character complexities for a study in kinetics; that is movement and music married together by edits. The first and second shorts are fun mashes of Ishii's frenetic energy with unexpected genres, a musical romance and a noir-ish standoff in that order. The final short, Fly is probably the nicest looking piece of early digital video I've seen filmed (so far). The blown-out colours, especially the deep blue of the sky, and the hazy textures are to die for. It's my favourite of the bunch because it looks great and its story is simple and entertaining.

  • A.K.A. Serial Killer

    A.K.A. Serial Killer

    ★★★★½

    Watching this, I realised that much of what Shinji Aoyama has to say about place and psyche in Eureka is not far off from what Masao Adachi has in mind with his landscape theory here. For what its worth, this is one of the most beautiful looking films I've ever seen; and in between this and Wakamatsu doing some of his career best work, 1969 for the Japanese New Wave is such an unbelievably special year.

  • Surviving Edged Weapons

    Surviving Edged Weapons

    ★★★★

    I cannot overstate how truly deranged this is to watch. Some scenes feel more at home in an SOV horror flick so it baffles the mind to see them in a police instructional video instead.