Before We Vanish

Before We Vanish

Steve Erickson
Mobian
Joined: 24 Oct 2004, 17:57

19 Sep 2017, 20:53 #1

BEFORE WE VANISH (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)--
Of the films I've seen, which is not all since Kiyoshi Kurosawa has remained quite prolific, I think BEFORE WE VANISH is his best since TOKYO SONATA. It's a riff on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and motifs from his previous work (the apocalypse, a weird stranger asking people seemingly naive questions about the nature of concepts like "self" and "love") that seems deadly serious in its post-humanism and is also often quite funny. The deep sense of dread that powered films like CURE, CHARISMA & PULSE is replaced by a fatalist sense that the human race is screwed and we may as well get some laughs out of it. Three aliens arrive in Tokyo, preparing the way for an invasion and stealing people's souls while they're at it. They look just like ordinary Japanese people, but they try to learn about the peculiarities of the nation's culture- and the human race, in general - in order to invade it. This doesn't quite have the exquisitely mysterious and disturbing qualities that CURE & PULSE had or the grasp on everyday life that TOKYO SONATA did (to name my three favorite K. Kurosawa films), but there's something appealing about its disorienting refusal to settle on a tone. It insists that you take it seriously, as silly as it sometimes seems, and it has a few ideas in common with MARJORIE PRIME. A lot of them imply that technology has brought the human race to a crossroads with which we're not coping very well, although this is subtext until the epilogue.
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Kim Greene
Mobian
Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 22:28

01 Oct 2017, 06:24 #2

@steve

Completely forgot about Kurosawa, or that he was still making films---thanks for that little heads-up. Liked PULSE, even though it was creepy and depressing. Which, unfortunately, dosen't mean that BEFORE WE VANISH will be playing around my way. That figures. I can't even recall the last time a Kurosawa film even played anywhere near the D, come to think of it.
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Steve Erickson
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Joined: 24 Oct 2004, 17:57

01 Oct 2017, 20:17 #3

Kurosawa is cranking out films quite prolifically. His film CREEPY got its New York premiere at the 2016 NY Asian Film Festival and then played for two weeks at the Metrograph last fall. The Japan Society's "Japan Cuts" series premiered his last film, DAGUERROTYPES (made in France), only a few months ago. However, BEFORE WE VANISH is distributed by NEON, a company owned by the Alamo Drafthouse. I'm sure you've heard about their history of tolerating and enabling sexism. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is obviously not responsible for this at all, but I'm mulling over whether it's responsible to review BEFORE WE VANISH professionally.
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Kim Greene
Mobian
Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 22:28

02 Oct 2017, 14:04 #4

@steve

Duh, I forgot to post this review of BEFORE WE VANISH after reading yours---the article also has links to his other most recent films, including that CREEPY one you mentioned (couldn't resist that pun,lol):

Slant Magazine----BEFORE WE VANISH review

Yeah, I've read about the sexual harassment accusations of the two writers at Indiewire and elsewhere-good to see that they're been publicly checked on it, but it shouldn't have taken that long for the women to get their complaints taken seriously about the two men and what they were doing. Unfortunately, that's the norm for how sexual harassment is dealt with in a lot of places--by ignoring it until it becomes too big of an issue to ignore, it seems. That's what's sickening about it. I would just go ahead and review it, since the film really has nothing to do with the ensuing issues behind the scenes of the Drafthouse.


BLIND BEAST aka MOJU (1969)-----Directed by Yasuo Masumura. This truly dark and bizarre Japanese psychological horror drama had me thinking, "This is the real 50 Shades here!" even though it's way better and goes to more unrestrained heights even FSOG,with its tameness, didn't have the guts to take itself to. A model (Mako Midori) who usually poses for some disturbing S&M artwork shown in a gallery, is there one day checking out her own pictures, when she notices a blind man (Eiji Funakoshi) feeling all over one of the statues in a way that creeps her out. Anyway, the model, Aki, sends for a massage therapist, who turns out to be---yep, you guessed it---the creepy blind man in disguise. After he kidnaps her and takes her to his weird home/art studio/turned prison, where he has an equally insane mother (Noriko Sengochu) who enables to him go through with his insane plan, Aki realizes that he's straight-up deranged after seeing that his place is decorated with various sculptures of certain parts of the female body in particular. Will she manage to get out of this place in one piece with her sanity intact, or not? Here's the trailer:

Trailer for BLIND BEAST

Saw this twice---first, without subs because there wasn't a subtitled version of it anywhere online, then when it popped up w/subs on the tube again, I watched it again. It's well made, but, boy, does it go down a dark hole when it comes to the psychological battles fought between the scared model and the mad sculptor over who's going to get the upper hand, so to speak. It was based on a horror story by Edogawa Rampo (Japan's early answer to Edgar Allan Poe.) It's on the tube, but without English subs. Hopefully one w/ Eng. subs pops back up again. It's on DVD,though. I read about this film in The Encyclopedia of Horror Films years and years ago, and thinking I'd never see it because it sounded so freaky, weird and disgusting at the time. Actually, it's far more tame than the average horror film now, having no gore and suggesting instead of directly showing a lot of things, but still disturbing, regardless.

BLIND BEAST at IMDB
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Kim Greene
Mobian
Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 22:28

08 Oct 2017, 02:44 #5

KILLZONE 2 aka SHA PO LANG 2 (2015)----Directed by Pou-Soi Cheang.  Not sure why it took so long to come up with a sequel to the original 2005 SHA PO LANG aka KILLZONE---there's virtually no connection between the two, except for the fact that star/martial artist Wu Jing plays the hero in this sequel (a severely compromised one, though) instead of the brutal villain he was in the original.

Anyway, Jing plays Chan, a prisoner among a group of prisoners in jail who gets beat up along with the rest of them. What Chan is, is really an undercover policeman who unfortunately has a real bad drug habit. He gets hauled out of the jail by another Chan, one Kwok-wah (veteran actor Simon Yam) who happens to be both his supervisor and his uncle, and who's also pissed at him for not getting himself together. Tony Jaa also stars in his first Hong Kong film as a single father named Chitchai, who's also a prison guard with an adorable little daughter who has leukemia that he visits in the hospital daily. Thing is, she needs help from a donor asap, or she won't have long to live, he's been told. Somehow, Chitchai's able to get the donor's number (he still dosen't know the person's ID) and tries desperately to reach him or her, to no avail at first. Meanwhile, a man named Hung (Jun Kung) and his wife try to make a break for it while being guarded by the police in the airport. Despite being practically shadowed by Inspector Kwok and his tough team of officers, there's still a blazing shootout following afterwards.  Turns out Hung's brother, a cold-blooded gangsta named Mun Gong (a barely recognizable Louis Koo, in a completely non-flashy,low-key role for a change) is the one behind it. He needs a heart transplant, and his brother is the only one he can get a donor match from, even if he's got to bump off a whole batch of police officers to kidnap him again--which he does, of course. Kwok and his team are mad as all hell when that happens, because that means they're got a mole somewhere tipping somebody off to their plans.

Just about every single one of the obligatory fight scenes are incredible, but the obvious and most awesome stand-out one is when a planned riot jumps off in the prison Chan winds up in, and when he tries to escape, he keeps getting pulled back by Chitchai---and then there's a complete unbroken shot that swoops over and on top of the entire melee in the jail, while everyone just keeps on whomping the hell on out of each other below. The warden, another cruel thug type named Ko (Jin Zhang) shows what he's made of by pulling off some amazing fight manuevers while not being the least bit afraid to fight his way through the crowd and handle his shady business (getting organs on the black market) that he's using the jail as a cover for. Seeing both Wu Jing and Tony Jaa both going at each other hard as nails, with everyone straight-up brawling all around them, is jaw-dropping and breathtaking to watch, especially for as long as they do, and what they do while they're doing it. It's also good to see both of them excel in solid character acting roles for a change, instead of just mostly busting people's heads up all the time. In a nutshell, all three of these plotlines managed to intersect in a satisfying dramatic way that actually makes sense, and ties everything up satisfyingly. KILLZONE 2 is definitely way better than the first film, mainly because it has three-dimensional characters you come to care for and hope they succeed against all odds---which they barely manage to. The ending, though, was so damn convoluted, it was ridiculous---it just came off like one big cop-out, even though the film is one dark,no-nonsense balls-to-the-wall-action flick, and tougher than nails up until then. Here's the trailer for it:

SHA PO LANG (KILLZONE 2) at IMDB
Last edited by Kim Greene on 18 Dec 2017, 02:43, edited 3 times in total.
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Kim Greene
Mobian
Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 22:28

22 Oct 2017, 04:32 #6

Here's a brand new interview with director Wong Kar-Wai about the opportunities for new filmmakers in China now that the industry is more open to them, and why they still need to stay competitive:

The Hollywood Reporter----Interview with Wong Kar-Wai

Here's yet another interview with Wong Kar-Wai about his recent leap to Amazon to make a historical mini-series drama called TONG WARS, and what his new film,BLOSSOMS (which he's still working on) is finally shaping up to be after two years of development:

Why Wong Kar-Wai is Directing A TV Series

The latest film project/ from former dissident Chinese filmmaker Ai Weiwei, a documentary titled HUMAN FLOW, is a worldwide look at refugees from different countries displaced over time by war or other crises (being a refugee himself,he brings a unique point of view to the subject matter:)
http://www.indiewire.com/2017/10/ai-wei ... 201887125/
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