Action / Drama

Plot summary

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1.96 GB
Japanese 2.0
24 fps
3 hr 37 min
P/S ...
3.63 GB
Japanese 2.0
24 fps
3 hr 37 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rooprect4 / 10

A fine line between magnificent and annoying

If, as Nigel said in Spinal Tap, there's a fine line between clever and stupid, then this movie shows that there's a fine line between artistic and tedious.

For me this movie teetered on the edge for three hours before unfortunately toppling into the "tedious" pile. I think it was that awful, experimental noise music which was inserted at a most inappropriate time which killed it for me. But there were many other close calls which could have proved fatal as well.

First let's talk about the colour. Just because a movie is shot in b&w doesn't mean that it is magically elevated to artistic status. On the contrary, I feel that (modern) b&w film must earn its right to be b&w. This movie failed in that department. There is no use of shadows, sharpness or contrast which are the primary appeals of the monochrome medium. Instead, the whole movie has a soupy, fuzzy, bleached appearance, like an old VCR tape that you left on the dashboard for too long.

Obviously the director was trying to make a statement with this visually unappealing use of browns. If the movie were any shorter than 3.5 hours, then I could have forgiven it. But unfortunately it didn't make the cut.

Next let's talk about theme. Sure, it has a compelling theme (sort of like the other Japanese film from the same year "Suicide Club") dealing with the contagious nature of evil. I do have to give this film applause for handling the subject much more poetically than the pop trash flick Suicide Club. Yet I have to turn around and fault the director for dragging the same message out for too long. The effect was a watering down of an otherwise powerful message. Again, we tip from magnificent to annoying.

Lastly I'll mention some of the cinematic techniques and scene compositions. In a word: wow. There are a few shots which must've taken 100 takes to get them right, and with that I am impressed. But you have to realize that I am impressed simply as a film nerd who looks for that sort of thing. Beyond the gimmickery of a "wow" shot to impress the film nerds, I didn't see much poetic meaning to these indulgent scenes. Quite often they went nowhere. Unlike Tarr (Werckmeister harmóniák) or Bresson (Pickpocket) or even Hitchcock (Rope) who used long scenes to build momentum to a miniature climax each time, this director uses long scenes which ultimately lose coherence and end on a totally meaningless note. Another reviewer compared this film to Tarkovsky, and I have to say that's right on the mark; both directors share the same annoying tendency to film things that don't necessarily relate to the work but are simply neato things to do (like Tarkovsky's obsession with zooming in on peoples' earlobes for 2-3 minutes).

I love Japanese cinema. I love the challenging philosophy of films like Rashômon, the poetic complexity of films like Shiki-Jitsu, and above all, the focused clarity of films like Warai No Daigaku. Japanese cinema is art with a backbone. Unfortunately this film lacks that backbone which has been the defining characteristic since the days of Kurosawa. Without it, the film becomes just another desultory, rambling, impressionistic soup.

Unless you're a big fan of Tarkovsky, Paradjanov and other ambling Russian directors, I advise you to avoid this film. If, on the other hand, you like your films orchestrated and carefully designed à la Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Robert Bresson, or even the latter day greats Wim Wenders and Takeshi Kitano, then skip this and instead spend your 3.5 hours trying to hunt down a copy of Kwaidan by Kobayashi.

Reviewed by CountZero3132 / 10

utterly, utterly tedious film that has no right being this long

There is an excellent 100-minute film in Eureka, but this monster is an exercise in tedium that will appeal only to a particular niche of film buffs. Other reviewers point out that this is mainly a visual experience, with movie tributes to the likes of Hou Hsiao-Hsien for the anoraks to delight in spotting. But nobody seems able to tell me WHY it is so long. There is one scene where the bus pulls out of a diner's car park, and drives up the road that extends into the distance, over the hill and out of sight. Fixed camera wide shot, no cuts. It takes 2 minutes 40 seconds - why? We know where the bus is going, and the frame is not particularly interesting to look at. Maybe there is a deeper meaning to such anti-editing statements that I am missing, but it looks like Aoyama just couldn't be bothered cutting the thing properly. Two stars for the cinematography.

Reviewed by runamokprods8 / 10

Long, challenging, but well worth the effort

Hailed as a masterpiece by some, and a near one by others, I liked it quite a bit, and never felt bored in spite of it's nearly 4 hour running time. I was quite moved – to the point of tears - by the end.

It looks and feels like no other movie I've seen, shot in a shifting sepia tone, with very little dialogue, and long silent takes. It's an intimate epic. Sort of a Japanese version of a Terrence Malick film.

A young brother and sister, and a bus driver are the only survivors of a random bus-jacking by a madman. The three retreat from the world. But two years later the bus driver seeks out the brother and sister – living alone and mute despite their youth – and the long, slow process of healing begins.

As much as I liked a lot of it, certain plot twists felt clunky or heavy handed, as did some of the dialogue. A movie so based in unspoken emotion loses something when the themes suddenly become too literal, in word or action. But, those are things that might bother me less on a second viewing, when I was more prepared for this unique, odd, challenging film.

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