Archive for January, 2010

Suicide Club

Posted in Japanese Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Suicide Club – Jisatsu Circle – 2001

Plot: In Tokyo, when fifty-four high-school students commit a collective suicide, jumping from a platform in Shinjuku Station, the police force leaded by Detective Kuroda has no clue to follow. Then he receives an e-mail from a young woman, The Bat, advising that there is a site where red dots mean the number of persons that died. Kuroda and his team investigate the deaths going nowhere

Suicide Club aka Suicide Circle aka Jisatsu Circle is a very popular 2001 movie directed by Sion Sono. This is exactly the kind of movie i used to just love as kid, because it was so gruesome and nonsense, and so typically Japanese. As i grew up and my taste for strong storytelling developed, i am now reconsidering my opinion a bit, and i’m gonna try to briefly explain why in the next couple paragraphs.

First of, the strong points: we have the always appealing schoolgirls (in uniforms!) butchering themselves deal, you know, that sort of thing that is just eye candy for the horrorhounds.

the opening sequence is one of the most impressive in J-Horror history, with over 50 little schoolgirls cheerfully singing and holding hands as they prepare to jump under a speeding train.

then we have that fascinating, typically japanese, over the top nonsense part, where a pseudo underground terrorist j-rocker doing his best David Bowie impression – complete with high heels and sequined suits – takes lead in a scene and just starts.. to sing a song. about suicide. about how suicide is good for you and death survives everything and stuff. I mean come on.. beat that:

now, the movie even goes deeper into the social propaganda, exploring the realms of disaffected youth and existentialist wonders. what is the meaning of life? are we all linked to each other? do these bonds still exist after we die? things that work in theory, but that are not played out at best as the story unfolds. The main problem is that  Suicide Club follows a pace that is remarkably slow, something that i don’t mind most of the times but in this case there’s a couple moments where the movie becomes simply boring.

I mean, at some point you’re just waiting and waiting for the next crazy gory scene to shake things up a bit. But it’s all good, because from time to time here we go with those bleeding schoolgirls again

Sono soon announced that this movie was going to be part of a trilogy, but so far we only saw one sequel: Noriko’s Dinner Table, that depicts events from before and after the happenings of Suicide Circle, and gives more insight on several plotholes of its predecessor.

Briefly, the weakest point of the flick is all the unanswered questions. But all in all this is another classic, and fits perfectly that J-Cinema revival i was just talking about.

Zombie Cupcakes out!

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Battle Royale

Posted in Japanese Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Battle Royale – Batoru Rowaiaru – 2000

Plot: In the beginning of the 21st Century, the economy of Japan is near a total collapse, with high rates of unemployment and students boycotting their classes. The government approves the Battle Royale Act, where one class is randomly selected and the students are sent to an island wearing necklaces with few supplies and one weapon. After three days, they have to kill each other and the survivor wins his or her own life as a prize. The 42 students of a ninth-grade class are selected to participate in the survival game and abducted while traveling in their bus. Under the command of their former teacher Kitano, they have to eliminate each other following the rules of the sadistic game where only one wins

It’s Japanese Classics Revival here at Zombie Cupcakes land!

Being born and raised in a part of Europe where J culture is extremely popular, i kind of took movies like this for granted, like it was pointless to bring them up because “everybody has seen them already”.

It was then brought up to my attention that maybe a fresh viewer who is introduced to asian cinema for the first time might not exactly be so familiar with Akira, Tetsuo, Boiling Point, or in this case Battle Royale.

If i was ever to make a top 10 must see Japanese movie-list, this one would definitely be a part of it.

But first things first: Batoru Rowaiaru is a 2000 Kinji Fukasaku movie based on the shockwave novel by Koushun Takami, which is a bestseller in Japan, and which has become very controversial in a very short time. The plot is simple – a group of students are set to kill each other until only one survives – and stars the one and only Takeshi Kitano as the merciless teacher who’s behind the whole ordeal

Battle Royale is a fever-pitched exercise in the theory that reality itself is so close to absurdity that you need twist your picture of it only slightly to send it over the edge into nightmarish satire. There is no real meaning to the violence of it: just plain, bloody, and ultra-violent.

The main chatacters are Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa, two students who are secretly in love but never revealed it to each other before, and a third guy, Shogo Kawada, a survivor from a previous Battle Royale Program. But the thing is, even though she is in the movie only for a few minutes, the movie features a way more popular face, Takako Chigusa, played by Tarantino’s favorite japanese lady, Chiaki Kuriyama (aka Kill Bill’s Gogo). She wore that yellow one piece suit first!

The movie is brilliant in its simplicity, the satire against modern society is dry, bloody, and extremely effective.

And did i mention super-cute Japanese Schoolgirls (in uniforms!!) butchering each other?

Many other japanese movies involving schoolgirls and blood will be made after this, but Battle Royale will always be the “serious one”, the one that is not so gory it makes you laugh, but the one that’s brilliantly real even in such an unrealistic setting. If you’re approaching J-Cinema, and you want to do it right, make sure this movie is a part of your viewing experience.

Zombie Cupcakes Select: Movie Bites

Posted in French Cinema, Japanese Cinema, K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

bentobjects.blogspot.com

bentobjects.blogspot.com

Brains! Conquer!

Now that we’ve successfully brought 2009 over to the zombie side, here’s a little recap of the bloody gems the now old Mr Oh-nine entertained us with, in no particular order.

Thirst (Bakjwi):

First and foremost, Park Chan Wook’s new masterpiece. Thirst wins pretty much everything, with his absolute brilliance, cruelty, beauty, you name it, the list is almost endless. Almost as long as my epic wait for it through most of the year. Thankfully it was more than worth it! Park Chan-wook came back with this amazing picture and reminded us what vampires are really like (as in they don’t sparkle, people!! they just don’t!! no.no.no.), with their classic tragic sense of romance, internal struggle, irresistible sexuality, and a taste for Revenge. Full Review: here


Drag Me To Hell:

Sam Raimi.Gypsy curses. Exorcisms. Green gooey fun. Need i say more? When this movie came out, it was a little bit like christmas. Like horror movie jesus was born again to make us cry tears of bloody joy. Personally, i never gave up on Sam Raimi, but i know of a few people who did, and when Drag Me To Hell came out he just crushed everybody’s dirty mouth with his Mighty Fist. No, seriously. Every little movie geek like me who grew up with bread and Evil Dead, knew this day would come. Here’s my idea of how much this movie kicks ass. Full Review: coming soon


Martyrs:

Technically a 2008 movie, but the majority of us really discovered it in 2009, after its Dvd release. I like this movie so much it made me talk about it nonstop for months. It’s the journey of Anna Assoui down the terrifying spiral of abuse and torture. She suffers inexplicable pain. She’s a martyr, a fighter, a survivor, and pretty much my hero. Many labeled Martyrs as a “monster”, but here at zombie cupcakes, Monsters are good, and we love them plenty. Perfect 10. Full Review: here


Paranormal Activity:

There’s 2 very distinct school of thoughts for this movie; those who screamed amazing and those who screamed what the hell was that, also known as “i want my money back”. I  side with the amazing group. Maybe because I’m a believer. The movie is the modern Blair Witch Project. The story of a young couple haunted by a mysterious presence at night. Absolutely real and terrifying. I couldn’t sleep at night after i watched it, and i don’t care if you’re in the Poo-on-paranormal-activity party. Poo on you. I hope that demon comes for YOU next. Full Review: here


Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl:

Yoshihiro Nishimura teamed up with Naoyuki Tomomatsu of Stacy-Attack of the schoolgirl Zombies. These two need no introduction. They also don’t need a plot whatsoever, apparently. But we absolutely don’t care! Zombie schoolgirls, incredible gore, raining blood!! Fun for the whole family! This movie is the tale of two girls who like the same guy and bite to conquer his heart. But i digress. Did i mention unbelievable amounts of blood and gore? Featuring Eihi Shiina (from Audition) and Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On saga director), Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girls is not out on dvd (or on the net) yet, but it will be soon. In the meantime, try other Nishimura movies like Tokyo Gore Police, or Machine GirlFull Review: coming soon

What about you? What was your favorite this year?

Zombie Cupcakes out!

Paranormal Activity

Posted in Other Cinema with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Paranormal Activity

Plot: After a young, middle class couple moves into a suburban ‘starter’ tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.

Paranormal Activity is a 2007 independent horror movie directed by Oren Peli. It follows the life of Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), a young couple who happens to deal first hand with the hauntings of a demonic presence. The film is the modern Blair Witch Project head-to-toes: shot with a home camera (in the filmmaker’s house), it’s presented as “found footage” from the camera set up by the couple to capture what is haunting them. In the opening credits, the filmmakers thank their parents and their local police department for the use of the edited home video footage we’re about to see. It only costed 11,000$ and after its long-awaited release in the US theaters in October 2009, went on to make over 100 million, becoming what it’s considered to be one the most profitable movies ever made.

Paranormal Activity was super hyped, and even branded as “scariest movie of all times”, and for that reason, soon developed two completely opposite school of thoughts: those who really loved it and those who really despised it (altho i have to say one thing to those who didn’t like it; watching this movie in a noisy and crowded movie theater just doesn’t give it justice. Try watching it alone, in a dark room, with headphones on, and then see if it doesn’t stick with you even a little bit)

I remember when Blair Witch came out the reaction was exactly the same: some were coming home shocked and puzzled and some others where more like “uhm.. what was that?” . There simply was no in-between whatsoever.

Now, let’s just say that if you’re a believer – in ghosts and hauntings and the like, that is – chances are you’ll really dig it. Personally i found the movie to be absolutely frightening, real, and scary as hell in its simplicity. I’m with those who couldn’t sleep the night they watched it. And as the horror hound that i am, i couldn’t wait for the challenge, for the discovery of something that despite my “now accustomed to atrocities” mind, could still give me the chills.

As you may already know, there are two alternate endings : the first, original, 2007 release – and the 2009 theater one. I won’t discuss them here for the sake of those who haven’t seen it yet, but if you want to read more about it just click here. There is also a less known third version that was part of a private screening and was later added to the Dvd.

I don’t have many pictures to show you this time, since the movie is very simple and follows the everyday things of a normal couple. You’ll have to get used to the slow (thus realistic) pace, building up to events that are more and more evident, messing up with Micah and Katie’s life to the point of non return.

All in all Paranormal Activity was one of the most discussed, certainly most successful movies of the past few years, so even if you don’t believe in “silly ghosts” and all that jazz, give it a try either way, just like that, with no particular expectations, for the ride will be entertaining to say the least.

Bronson

Posted in Other Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Bronson – 2009

Plot: In 1974, a hot-headed 19-year-old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. During that time, Michael Petersen, the boy, faded away and ‘Charles Bronson,’ his superstar alter ego, took center stage. Inside the mind of Bronson – a scathing indictment of celebrity culture

Bronson is a 2009 biographical crime film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, about the life of notorious prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson, played by Tom Hardy. It is, as the poster says, “A Clockwork Orange of the 21st century”.

I couldn’t have explained it better with a thousand words. As a matter of fact, the entire time i was watching it that’s exactly what i was thinking. I stumbled upon this movie thanks to one of my favorites movie-geek friends, Kevin (@The_Cameo) on one of our many – and very nerdy – movie stuff conversations. I really need to thank him because his recommendation just gave me about 90 minutes of pure, gold, and good old ultraviolence:

Everything about this movie is pretty much amazing. Camera works, soundtrack, performances. Tom Hardy, who met the real Charlie Bronson to prepare for the movie, did an outstanding job portraying England’s most popular inmate.

I think I’m gonna let the pictures speak for me, because as of right now I still have the rush and the thrill that would make my words just a blurry combination of ways to repeat the word “awesome” over and over again.

Alternatively, there’s always Wikipedia: Born into a respectable middle class family, Peterson would nevertheless become one of the country’s most dangerous criminals, and is known for having spent almost his entire life in solitary confinement. Bronson is narrated with humour, blurring the line between comedy and horror. It explores the idea of a man’s violence as his alter-ego.

Also, i instantly developed the biggest crush on Earth for this guy, and just so you know, he’s totally gonna be my next boyfriend. That’s the extent of my “expert point of view” on this movie, Bronson.

No, but really, you HAVE to see this movie. You just have to.

It will make you scream “Alex!” and “Ludwig Van!!” a few times.

Guaranteed.