Shinya Tsukamoto is at a point in his career where I will see any movie with his name on it. Maybe not a wise thing, but there you go. After he created Tetsuo: The Iron Man, he pretty much put independent Japanese filmmaking into the pop-culture consciousness of the world. He has made plenty of movies at least as brilliant since then — Gemini, Vital, Tokyo Fist, A Snake of June — but also a number of others that rank more as interesting curiosities than essential work. E.g., Hiruko the Goblin, which felt curiously perfunctory — a work-for-hire instead of something really inspired.
And now we have Nightmare Detective, which while functional and competent — and a hell of a lot better than the run-of-the-mill J-horror product out there — is more like a taster for Tsukamoto’s talents than a real example of it. You watch this, and if you like it, you go on to watch one of the other movies I cited above. For that reason it also falls into a trap I’ve witnessed before: from any other director this movie would he phenomenal, but with Tsukamoto’s name on it, you automatically expect far more. Read more
The original Blood: The Last Vampire was one fierce little piece of work, despite clocking in at barely an hour. The TV series has the benefit of being longer and more involving, but also that much more — well, for lack of a better word, ameliorative. They broadened the scope of the story, but brought in a great many other things to make it more palatable to a broad audience: family matters, cute character touches, and even the odd comedic element. Is it me or has every series I’ve seen this year with claims to a remotely serious side — Blood+, Darker Than Black, etc. — used the staple gag of having a character who eats too much as their standard-issue way to inject a laugh into a scene?
I shouldn’t make it sound like I’m slagging Blood+ for splitting its attention between a serious story and a more light-hearted one. Spoonful of sugar, medicine, you know the drill: one makes the other that much more palatable. And in this case, it’s neither so sweet — or so bitter — that it’s wholly unpalatable. Last volume, we were right in the middle of a storyline that sounds like something ripped out of a gothic Nancy Drew, with vampire-killer Saya at an exclusive girls’ school in Vietnam, where rumors swirl about a masked phantom haunting the bell tower. And in the first episode of this disc, Saya’s dolling herself up for a gala ball at the school — where she ends up surreptitiously stuffing her face without even thinking about it. Read more
Blade Runner is not about the cities of the future, but about the human race of the future. This probably seems like heresy when talking about a film which has become to visions of the urban future what J.R.R. Tolkien’s works have become to visions of a heroic past. But now that Blade Runner’s finally been freed from its protracted legacy of postproduction tampering and incompleteness, it’s possible to see the film for what it always was under its dark and glittering skin. We are all, in our own ways, both more and less than human, and life is matter of compromising between both extremes.
Even if the film's moody cityscapes make it hard to think about anything else in the film — a big part of the reason the movie improves so on repeat viewings, as the initial shock of the visuals gives way to the real story — Blade Runner’s still not so much about the details of what the future will hold, but about how it’ll look and feel. It’s no coincidence that the definitive book on the making of the film is named Future Noir — noir, after all, is about attitude and atmosphere, not forensic precision. Sure, twenty-five years after the film was released, Times Square today looks a whole lot like the ad-splattered urban supersprawl depicted in Blade Runner; that part was easy enough to see coming. What strikes me most about the film now is how its idea of “the future” seems timeless, because it’s rooted not in technical details but mood and emotional color. The future’s always gonna be a sad and beautiful place, no matter what century you’re growing up in.Read more