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