It is forbiddingly hard to write about movies sometimes, because movies are images, not words; and Koyaanisqatsi is made of some of the grandest and most haunting imagery captured by a camera. It is a truly experimental movie, because you have no way of knowing what your reaction to it is going to be until you finally do see it. Most films are designed to tell a story of some sort. Koyaanisqatsi is not a contrived story about a preconceived moral point or character facet, but an experience on the same order of magnitude as a vast painting or a landscape.
It's also hard to talk about Koyaanisqatsi without trying to reinstill the same frame of mind that it evoked when it first appeared in 1983. Because so much of what the film accomplished has been hybridized into the way popular culture sees things, it has something of the same effect as the original Alfred Hitchcock version of Psycho does on modern audiences. We're so used to the derivate, the parody, the things influenced by it that when we finally do come back to the original there is an overwhelming shock of newness to it.Read more
A movie like Versus is immune to detailed criticism. Not because it's such an outstanding piece of timeless moviemaking — it isn't — but because it is so damn fun that docking it for being unoriginal or repetitive or what have you just doesn't feel in the spirit of things. If Evil Dead Trap was a Japanese homage to Argento, this is a Japanese homage to Sam Raimi.
Raimi roared into prominence when he shot The Evil Dead, a tiny shoestring-budget horror movie (with overtones of comedy) that blew minds left and right with its frenzied camerawork and tongue-in-cheek humor. The sequel was basically the same movie remade with a bigger budget, and even more outlandishly funny overtones (one duel between rotting corpses plays like a Three Stooges routine). Raimi has since gone on to become one of Hollywood's most respectable and talented directors, helming Spider-Man among many other movies.
Now comes Versus by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, which takes the same basic approach as Evil Dead — humans vs. monsters in the forest — upps the wattage, increases the gore, and extends the running time. And sure enough, it seems like a big-time Hollywood payoff is around the corner for Kitamura: he now has a first-look deal with a major studio based on this movie's cult reputation alone. Heck, even the Japanese-language trailer quoted Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News when he posted a rave review of the movie. Clout, it seems, knows no language barrier.Read more
In the liner notes to Nurse With Wound’s first album Chance Meeting..., there is what has come to be called The List. The List is a long, shapeless, possibly apocryphal roster of musicians and bands that Steven Stapleton admired, took influence from or only heard tantalizing whispers about. My own first encounter with the List was upon unpacking the boxed set of the first three NWW records — a rare enough item all by itself, and the presence of the List only made it all the more intimidating. The underground music universe was a lot bigger than I had previously imagined; the List was proof of that.
It’s become something of an ongoing game to find and catalog as many of the List items as possible. To my astonishment a great many of them have turned up as CD reissues in one form or another. The most jaw-dropping of the bunch has to be this monster here, a boxed set from Captain Trip Records in Japan that contains just about the entire surviving recorded output of the so-far-underground-it’s-not-funny acid / psych / trance / noise / cult outfit Yahowha 13. The fact that they have proven influential enough in their own silent way to merit such a massive (literally: 6 pounds) piece of musical archaeology is heartening. This set is a labor of love dedicated to one of the strangest bands of all time — part cult, part commune, part acid rock experiment, something like an American hippie version of Amon Düül, but with even more alt-weirdness appeal. Read more