Sunday, July 31, 2011

Breaking Bad: Season 2 Episode 10

Watching Season 2 Episode 10 of Breaking Bad. Walt pays for a new water heater with his fat stacks and realizes one of them has Spooge's blood on it. But wait.


I expected a little more know-how from this show. Blood contains oxygen and iron. After the blood has dried and the cells have died the iron reacts with air and rusts, creating the brown colour. Come on, Mr. White!

Or maybe I am asking for too much. I guess this is more Dexter's material. lol

The bad-ass clip that I posted, when Walt confronts those guys frontin' on his turf, comes at the end of this episode. In the context of the plot-line the scene takes on SO much more significance. Walt has come to realize that he LIKES being a bad-ass. His career in the drug underworld isn't over yet.... no sir.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

An odd Touhou music post

Here's a weird one a friend showed me a while back. I've never played Touhou or any of those bullet hell games but the music has its appeal.

Like this one: U.N. Owen was her?

But I actually like this one better. It's some weird and awesome acapella wouldn't you say?

The number one comment as of right now is the best too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Multi-lingual Song Covers

Yah, yah I know I missed a post, haha.

I love listening to covers of songs in different languages. One of the reasons Dragostea din Tei will always hold a special place in my heart, but I'll post about that some other time. And I don't call it the Numa Numa Song.

Here's a nice pair of songs for ya.

Original German:

Wir Sind Helden - Nur Ein Wort by Th3-Warlords

Mandarin Chinese cover:

I don't speak German but I love it anyway hahahaha.
I'm surprised Rainie Yang has a VEVO channel.
I'm disappointed you can't find the Chinese characters anywhere on the video itself. Even the title is just the Romanized words.

On the Creation of Zombies

My first zombie movie experience came when I was but a wee lad of 10 or so years. A classic, Night of the Living Dead [1968], which I watched on a visit to my aunts and uncle in Philadelphia. It scared me shitless. Me and my sibs didn't want to go into the darkness up the stairs to brush our teeth afterward even.

I saw a Redbox at Walmart yesterday (which was blue, because it was in a Walmart. Go figure.) My eye immediately went to one of the New Releases: [REC] 2 [2009]. It's a sequel to [REC] [2007]. Both of these Spanish horror films have received high praise and (of course) spawned a Hollywood remake, entitled Quarantine [2009] along with an original Hollywood sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal [2011]. Sadly, I haven't had the chance to watch the originals and I've only seen the first Quarantine, but that one was great. Really!! I will admit that since I hadn't seen the Spanish version I didn't get to fire from the high ground (hehehe) but as a stand-alone film, I liked it.

Anyway, so seeing [REC] 2 made me think about how the things featured in the film aren't classic undead zombies, yet, that movie is undeniably a zombie film. I like to call these pseudo-zombies. A slew of recent films came to mind: I Am Legend [2007], the 28 Days Later [2002] series and the Resident Evil [2002] series (those zombies were actually undead though). In all of these films the 'zombies' came to be due to a virus or some other product of genetic engineering. In contrast, guess what caused the dead to rise from their graves in Night of the Living Dead? A space probe returning to Earth explodes in the upper atmosphere, spreading radioactive contaminant.

Most people today would not so easily believe that radiation could cause the dead to rise. Radiation simply doesn't do that, and everyone knows it. Back in 1968 though, radiation was kinda new. Mainstream understanding hadn't advanced to the point where your average person had heard of things like fusion and fission, and fewer still would have known the difference. People assigned 'radiation' and nuclear-anything with a kind of mystical power and were afraid. These days the cold war is over, 'nuclear deterrent' isn't much of a buzzword anymore. Guess what scientific breakthrough started making headlines? Genetic engineering, weaponized viruses and such. Though even that isn't making headlines so much. What's making headlines? Hmm, *scrounge scrounge* Ah, a white woman may or may not have killed her baby? Truly, news worthy of national attention.

You remember how Spiderman originally got his powers? A radioactive spider bit him. That's ridiculous, and I hope you all know that. But, if you watched the recent movie, Spiderman [2002], did you pay attention to how they tweaked his origin story? That lab had "15 genetically enhanced super-spiders".

OOOOOOH LOOK AT THAT DNA STRAND ooga booga booga! And so you get the modern day version of your undead zombie: a ravenous, feral humanoid. Except for the Resident Evil franchise, most zombies aren't undead no more. The buzzword of choice: INFECTED.

I take it as a very reassuring fact that a good portion of contemporary audiences want intelligent entertainment (or at least some intelligence in their entertainment). We get our doses of medicine, chemistry, and mathematics from some of the most popular TV shows today. Accordingly, zombies, even actually dead ones like in Resident Evil, have needed to spruce up the mechanics behind the transformation. Resident Evil [2002] explained it away thusly: the T-Virus provides an electrical jolt to the brain which restores the barest of mental facilities: motor function and the need to feed. Then you get 28 Days Later: the Rage virus causes people to become enraged and pumps them full of adrenaline. I Am Legend: a man-made virus kills off 90% of the population and changes a large portion of the rest into hungry, aggressive gray-skinned humanoids with extremely high metabolism.

Things have come a long way from mysterious radioactive contaminant, eh?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Breaking Bad: Family Problems

Eight episodes into the second season now, Walt's second life has started to cause problems with his family. This should surprise no one. Walt isn't a very good liar when it comes to his wife. At this point he is still only an amateur criminal. He has his moments of bad-assery now and then but he has a ways to go before he reaches the point featured in that hardware store clip.

Because Walt is such a bad liar (where his wife is concerned anyway), those scenes do not entertain me. Futhermore, Skyler strikes me as an unintelligent character, which doesn't help things. I feel like Walt should be able to pull the wool over her eyes much better than he has been. Some of the cover lies he tells make me cringe. I think of the lie I would have told in his situation as the conversation rolls on. Then he goes in a different direction, one that can unravel with a single phone call between two people he assumes won't call each other. I wait for the times when his 'opponents' are thugs and bad guys so he can turn into Heisenberg.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Destroy Angels

A newer group, they only released their first EP in 2010 and I loved it. You might recognize one of these songs from my Idiosyncrasy #2 post, The Space in Between.

It's post-industrial and more than a little unusual. I can understand if it isn't everyone's cup of tea. Check out the rest of their songs. 6 total.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breaking Bad: Season 1

Just finished the first season, 7 episodes long. Each episode is ~48 minutes long and there's a good amount of plot development in every single one.

I know pretty much every commentary made by anyone on this series has made note of this but Bryan Cranston makes this show what it is. Having watched him on Malcolm in the Middle, this role really shows off his acting abilities. As Hal, he was such a bumbling fool. Walter White: polar opposite. The guy becomes such a bad-ass.

At the outset of the show he's a pretty soft, almost wimpy, guy. A brilliant chemist who turned down professorships in universities and high-level positions in the private sector, Walt lives his life as an under-appreciated high school chemistry teacher.

This benign lifestyle changes when his doctor diagnoses him with terminal lung cancer. He has a son with special needs and an expectant wife. Furthermore, their insurance doesn't cover treatment.

Walt ends up deciding to 'break bad' and use his chemistry skills to cook high quality crystal meth in order to leave enough money for his family to go on comfortably after his death. At heart Walt is a family man, and the excellence of this show's premise stems from the transformation his dark path has on him as he falls further and further into the drug trade underworld.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Breaking Bad posts?

Would it be interesting to post commentary on Breaking Bad episodes? It's some really good stuff so I won't have much to rant on.....

Short post for today. I don't have much time to write something more thought out. (^__^;;;)7
Have another bad-ass scene.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breaking Bad Season 4

Season 4 has started up for this series and, as with Dexter, I have fallen a few seasons behind. I ended up marathoning through the last 4 seasons of Dexter and I'm going to do that with 2 and 3 here. Walter White is such a badass.

Friday, July 22, 2011

K-ON! Ep.5

Sooooo hot here.....(- -_____;;;;)";`

And it is suitably hot this episode too.

Seems like the music playing is starting to pick up. Yui was holding her guitar in the first minute!

But hold on!!! It turns out the club isn't officially recognized because Ritsu forgot to submit a Club Form. Har har har. They go around and pull in, of course, the only adult character we've been introduced to: Sawako Yamanaka, to be supervisor.

When she touches the guitar she changes drastically. Fortunately, she agrees to be club supervisor although they soon realize they are missing a vocalist. (Also Ritsu blackmails her.)

This role falls to Yui, who has to learn to play and sing at the same time.

Still, she's stupid and naturally can't remember to sing AND play at the same time so it goes to....

MIO! YAY!! The shy and most easily frightened one will be put on the spot! Brilliant!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FIFA Women's World Cup 2011

The women's World Cup has never been as popular as the men's but this year the committee really stepped up media promotion, such that, even though I'm late, I heard about the results after it ended. Apparently the Japan vs USA final match was amazing and I'm going to watch it later tonight myself. This got me to thinking though: Is the footage of past World Cup games archived anywhere? Does FIFA sell dvds? I think they'd make a tidy profit doing that but I've never seen the option on their website. The footage isn't just discarded is it? Seems like such a waste if the only recourse I have would be to torrent or download someone's personal recording. Anyone know the truth?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

K-ON! Ep.4

This episode is a beach episode, so fan service is a given. Nothing wrong with that but please can we get some music going here?

It turns out Mio is on my side, she also makes note of the fact that 3 months (3 episodes for me) have passed with no actual band activity. They go to the beach to have a sort of band boot camp.

Of course this goes according to plan. Yep.
At one point Ritsu makes a reference to "Zipangu, the land of gold". Maybe this one only made a East Asian history fan like myself laugh but oh well. (^__^)

You think that scene was the music playing we'd been waiting for? I wish. It gets overlaid with some wistful tune music instead.

Then finally after that, they get to playing. It turns out Yui is some kind of idiot savant when it comes to playing the guitar. Woot! Let the music roll in, yeah!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

K-ON! Ep.3

Third episode. Still no OP. Still no music. (- -__|||)

Midterm exams have come around and, as you know, Yui is an airheaded dunce. This is a problem because students who fail the exams are not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. This and the fact that the Light Music Club has the bare minimum of members as it is means that Yui's academic performance is everyone's problem.

We get a whole episode of Yui procrastinating and the entire club holding an all-night cram session for her.

Yui passes, of course, and we've just seen an episode devoted to characterizing our protagonists with no real plot development. In the end Yui even forgets all the chords she learned so we are no closer to a show about a band than we started.

Monday, July 18, 2011

K-ON! Ep.2

Still no OP sequence yet, we just go into a cold open.

Based solely on hearsay I had thought Mio was the main character but it turns out its Yui. This episode focused on Yui getting her hands on a guitar, kind of a big deal for the guitarist in the band haha. (^_^;;)7

Most of the episode revolves around the gang getting part-time jobs to get enough money for Yui's dream guitar. They end up working as Traffic Surveyors, counting the number of cars that pass.

Besides the missing OP there has hardly been any music playing activity either. I'm sure the show picks up when we get to that part right? Otherwise this is turning out to be a plain slice-of-life type show. Nothing wrong with that, but not what I want out of this one.

In the end it turns out that Tsumugi is the guitar company's president's daughter. She gets the clerk to sell the guitar to them at a low price such that they didn't have to get those part-time jobs in the first place.

W/e. (- -____;;)7

Sunday, July 17, 2011

K-ON! Ep.1

Watching first episode now. The animation quality is really good, I can say that with certainty. 11 minutes in so far, it isn't bad but I don't see anything that explains this series' rabid fanbase.

The character designs are pretty distinctive, especially those eyebrows....

 This reference to Detroit Metal City made me laugh. (^__^)
Here, Mio gets kicked under the table in the background. It struck me that a few years ago that sort of thing wouldn't have happened. I guess I would say economy of action would have made that action the focus of a frame or it wouldn't have happened at all.

Our merry band of bandmates:

Mio and Ritsu
Akiyama Mio - bass

Hirasawa Yui - guitar

Kotobuki Tsumugi - keyboard

Tainaka Ritsu - drums

I think you'll either love or hate Tsumugi's eyebrows.
Yui is a klutz and doesn't actually know how to play a guitar.
That was the first episode. Nothing happened to really hook me but it wasn't bad.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The books were great, why fuck with that? When Neville started to make his speech and the uplifting music started I said to myself, "Ahhh, shit." In the book, the moment Neville pulled the sword from the hat was awesome. In the movie, it was lame. Everything in the movie that happened after that moment sucked. Their final battle was jazzed up to use lots of special effects but had no heart.

But you know what bothered me most? After Mrs. Weasley killed Bellatrix she smiled to herself. You remember how to create a Horcrux? Performing the most extreme act of evil: murder. Well, bad guy through and through though she may have been, Bellatrix was a person and Mrs. Weasley just killed her. Not only that but her face when she was smiling just looked evil, like *she* was the bad one. Those of you who haven't seen the movie, pay attention when you get to this scene. You'll see what I'm talking about. Homely Mrs. Weasley has no place smiling after taking a life.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Change of direction

Kk, that's 18 posts centered on horror out of a total of 38 posts so far, not including this one. That's a ~47%. I believe I'm due for a break from that for a little while. Make no mistake, you better believe I'll be watching horror movies anyway but I won't post about them immediately.

It occurs to me that I've been slacking in the anime department.

It bothers me that Firefox underlined 'anime' as a misspelled word. (⌐⌐__) What a punk.

My myanimelist profile has been neglected for too long. I don't even remember the password.....

What to watch? K-ON! After all that moeblob fandom stuff I will watch the series as a latecomer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dark Water [2005] Pt.3

Dahlia falls asleep and has a dream that she is taking care of Ceci for a day, Ceci actually spends the day with her father. This is actually Natasha's ghost, which they convey to us through camera angles that obscure her face at first. At night she asks Dahlia, "Mommy, I'm scared I wanna sleep with you." Dahlia doesn't turn around and says yes. At this point we see the child's face. It looks like Ceci but there is an entirely necessary scary chord inserted here. Otherwise we would NEVER know that it's supposed to be scary. That wasn't sarcasm either. Meh. Dahlia wakes up to see her entire ceiling black and moldy, dripping water. It has been an entire day that she was 'asleep'.
Later, the husband (I still don't know his name) drops Ceci back off at the apartment but Dahlia has become suspicious. She tells Ceci to wait at the elevator while she checks on something. She saw Husband drive away but he's actually eating a sandwich in the diner across the street. This tips Dahlia off that her husband comes to Roosevelt island more than he lets on. Meanwhile, the elevator opens and Ceci is drawn to what looks like a puddle of water in the corner. The doors shut and take her up to the top floor before coming back down. When Ceci comes back in sight what do you think she has? The Hello Kitty bag! Oh the horror!

Dahlia takes the bag and angrily turns it in to Mr. Veck, threatening him with a law suit if the leak in the ceiling isn't fixed posthaste. This kind of spoils the helpless, end-of-her-wits characterization the mother is supposed to have, in my opinion.

The next day Natasha seems to take control of Ceci's arm while the class is painting, prompting her to make a scene. The teacher sends her to the bathroom to clean up, alone of course. The faucets and toilets start to gush dirty water and Natasha's ghost corners her in one of the stalls. Now I'm confused. I thought they were friends? Just the other day Natasha gave her the Hello Kitty bag and sang songs with her. Why the sudden murderous hostility? Dahlia ends up getting the call late and can't find Ceci at the hospital either. She insists to her lawyer that she isn't crazy then goes home and acts like a crazy person, wailing and pounding on the walls. The moldy patch speaks to her using her mother's voice. It turns out the husband picked Ceci up. The lawyer shows up and asks questions of Murray and Veck, demanding to know more about the Rimsky child and what happened to her.
I don't know why. The Rimsky's are not his problem, nor are they at all related to her case. Why is he meddling? In the original the most the lawyer got involved was to offhandedly ask how often the water tank was cleaned. Nice and subtle. Here it seems like the lead up to the conclusion was shoe-horned in.
Dahlia gazes at the newly installed pipes and whispers to herself about how Natasha was left behind by her parents. The father thought she went with her mother, the mother abandoned the child because she couldn't take care of her. "Help me" and suddenly wet footprints lead out of her apartment and up to the roof. *rolls eyes* The water tank overflows with water. As Dahlia ascends the ladder, scenes of Natasha doing the same overlap. Natasha apparently leaned over too far and flipped right into the tank. That's retarded. She didn't drop her bag and fall in reaching for it, she just dives in. Ridiculous. Dahlia opens the tank and sees her body floating slightly beneath the surface. Dahlia reaches for her when the eyes suddenly open (accompanied, as always, by a scream), startling her and causing her to slam the lid shut again. At this I laughed out loud. Dahlia cautiously opens the tank again and the eyes are shut once more. "Pull that shit again and I leave you in here, brat." Ok, she didn't actually say that but it's what went through my head lol.

Cut to the police stuffing Veck into a squad car. Apparently, Natasha has been dead for weeks and Veck probably found her in the tank, explaining his refusal to fix the building's plumbing problem. The next day she meets Husband and tells him that she would be willing to move to Jersey City so that shared custody would be easier. They seem to reconcile somewhat.
Later that night Dahlia shares a tender moment with Ceci while the camera zooms in on the clean ceiling corner and ominous music plays. Ceci takes a bath when the door (made of plate glass) closes silently. Outside mom talks on the phone when a bath-robed figure comes out and asks, "Mommy, can you read me a story?" Then Dahlia hears Ceci's voice coming from the bathroom! EGADS!!!
Suddenly, it isn't Ceci but Natasha under the robe. "Don't leave me, I want you to be my mommy, don't leave me." delivered in an unconvincing monotone by a bad child actor... The bathroom door slams shut and locks while Natasha appears in the bathtub (looking ridiculous wearing her school uniform amidst the bubbles). Dahlia finally breaks through the door to see Natasha drowning Ceci. After ineffectually bashing the door with a blow-dryer while what looks like shit water gushes everywhere Dahlia agrees to stay with Natasha and be her mommy. The shit water drowns her and Ceci bobs back up behind the door gasping for air.
Ah, bullshit. This action packed climactic scene is shit.

3 weeks later, Ceci returns with Dad to get her things. Ceci gets separated from Dad in the elevator and she looks up a drip of water in the corner of the room. Dahlia appears to reassure her little girl and tell her, "Whenever you need me, I'll be here." Well ain't that comforting? Whenever you need mom you just have to come to this crappy apartment complex to speak with her ghost.

Ok, final verdict: shitty horror movie, but would have been a decent drama. What would that be, a C-? I'm out. Peace. ( ̄__ ̄)_V

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dark Water [2005] Pt.2

So the first time Yoshimi went into the upstairs flooded apartment Ikuko had been missing. She then has another encounter with something supernatural. Here, honestly, besides that elevator scene this movie has been lacking on the horror and dread. It could very well be a normal drama about a mother struggling to protect her daughter. (o_ô)

Ceci's teacher informs Dahlia that Ceci has been talking with her imaginary friend a lot. Oh well, not unusual for that age, eh? Later that night, Ceci lies in bed singing Itsy Bitsy Spider when the ghostly whisper joins in. I lol'ed rather than shuddered. As Dahlia and Ceci fall asleep the camera view shifts to behind the wall vent for some reason. Is that supposed to be the ghost watching her?

Dahlia has a dream sequence of herself entering the upstairs apartment. Retching sounds guide her to the bathroom where she finds a woman with an accent puking into the toilet. As Dahlia bends down to help her it turns out it is her mother, who declares that she hates her. Mother shoves her out of the bathroom into the hall, water leaking down its walls and ceiling all around.

The next day it turns out the husband is waiting outside her apartment. It turns out he has also been to Ceci's school, giving them his cell phone number. Furthermore, Ceci has continued to fraternize with her imaginary friend, Natasha. Later, Dahlia takes her laundry down to the basement where she is harassed by some teens, apparently the same teens who vandalized the upstairs room. Minor characters, completely dispensable to the storyline and only good for the two jump scares they deliver within 60 seconds of each other. Dahlia finds the Hello Kitty bag in a nearby trash can and notices the tag has a name on it: Natasha Rimsky. Ok... Dahlia drops it back and waits for her laundry. The machine starts to shake and jump. Dahlia leans in closer to see dirty water start to fill the cylinder when suddenly the image of a screaming little girl appears in its depths.

Sigh... You know what I said about the supernatural? Well, now we have some, sure, but it feels so tacked on. In fact, I feel like this movie could have been a decent drama film and dispensed with this half-assed horror instead. These jump scares are a tool as if to urgently remind us, "You're watching a horror film! A horror film! Please believe us!"

I notice that these posts haven't had alot of pictures in them, whereas the Japanese version had plenty. That wasn't on purpose but it is no accident either. There hasn't been much of anything frightening to see so far.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dark Water [2005] Pt.1


Ok, so here we go. I don't like to drink the Haterade (I prefer the bubble tea) so I will tell you now that if you expected a tirade.... weeellll I *might* give one to you. I haven't seen this movie before so I don't actually know if it sucks. I wouldn't be surprised if it did but you can't blame me for that generalization can you? And that's why I'm here. I try my best not to hate on things based solely on other people's opinions just as I don't 'like' things just because other people do. That's no way to form an interesting self is it?

So any way, film starts and we see our protagonist, Dahlia, as a young girl, waiting for her parents to pick her up after school. Immediately flash forward 31 years, Dahlia and her husband meet with divorce mediators.

Looking at the relationships between the Japanese couple and this one reveals some interesting differences in culture. The husband and wife were much more subdued in their acting. Their dialogue, while hostile, never elevated to loud bickering in public. Dahlia and husband immediately start to argue and the husband screams that she is insane.

I think Hitomi Kuroki (actress for Yoshimi) conveyed the desperation of her character very well. Jennifer Connelly doesn't do a bad job but she doesn't have that same facial expression ability.

Dahlia and her girl, Ceci, arrive to check out the apartment, managed by a Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly) and superintendent, Mr. Veck (Pete Postlethwaite). Well now, this movie has some big guns on hand, eh? You probably last saw Reilly in Step Brothers, awesome movie by the way. And for you Yanks out there you probably know Postlethwaite as the big game hunter, Roland, from The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997].

The nice and underplayed elevator scene has been jazzed up for American audiences. Rather than the ghost quietly taking Yoshimi's hand, the elevator door suddenly shuts and traps Dahlia inside. An invisible hand slips into hers and Mr. Veck peers at an odd little girl shaped blur shows up on the security feed while little whispers of 'mommy' slither around the enclosed space. Subtle.

While in the apartment a big thing is made out of Ceci being mesmerized by the moldy stain on the ceiling. I wonder if they are going to make her sort of channel "Mitsuko's" ghost or something. Ikuko and Mitsuko didn't really have any relationship besides the one off-hand mention of her when Ikuko was in the bathtub. Other than that incident Mitsuko almost kills Ikuko twice. Hardly friendly. We shall see where they take this.

Eventually, the kid runs up to the roof and finds the bag, it's a Hello Kitty bag here. The mother again refuses to allow her child to keep the strange bag but here Mr. Veck says that if it is unclaimed after a week Ceci can have it. I don't think he's clever enough to have planned for it but this incentive is enough for Ceci to become keen to live in the place.

Ceci integrates relatively well with her new classmates. The Child Scolding scene has been removed for some reason. I thought it really contributed to showing the strain that the mother was under and the various worries that trouble her. Meanwhile, the moldy stain expands and starts to leak water. In the original it looked, well, normal and mold stain looking. Here it's black and unnecessarily menacing looking. Again, what is this aversion to subtlety? Dahlia's stressful situation starts giving her bad migraines and she goes to get a glass of water, etc., hair comes out of tap, etc. Here, though, we get the obligatory ((9_9) ugh) ghostly whisper: "mommy wake up" when she's all alone.

Scurrying footsteps above lead her to investigate the upstairs apartment. She finds it completely flooded but, unlike the original, this apartment looks like it has tenants. There are pictures and furniture everywhere. Dahlia moves further into the apartment when Mr. Veck startles her with a jump scare from behind. *rolls eyes* Apparently some punk ass teens have been vandalizing. The previous tenants have been gone for months. Ok, so in this remake the time-line has been shrunken from years to months since the previous tenants vacated the upstairs apartment.

Alright, I'll break it in half here. I'm about half way through the movie too. It isn't bad so far, surprise surprise!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dark Water [2002] Pt.2

Things aren't looking up for Yoshimi. She gets held up applying for a job at a publisher while her daughter waits at the school. Again. And its gloomy and raining again too. She has a flashback to when she was a little girl, sitting at a table. A woman answers the phone. Apparently they're trying to find her father.
Poor orphan

[Roughly translated]
Woman: Yoshimi, today we're trying to find your dad, so just wait a little longer, k?
Yoshimi: What about mom?
Woman: Your mom? Well.....

The sky slowly darkens outside as night falls and the boss still hasn't gotten around to completing her interview. She needs this job, but Ikuko is alone at school... Finally one priority outweighs the other and she rushes out, hurriedly giving the boss a summary of her resume and taking off. By the time she gets to the school the place has been locked up. For a moment she catches her breath... and notices a Missing Child poster.
Mitsuko Kawai
Age: 5
Born 11/3/93
Height: 1.16m
Weight 20kg
Long black hair
Last seen on 7/14/99 wearing a yellow raincoat.
I wonder.....
She spots the father walking away with Ikuko and snatches her back. We get a touching scene between the two. "As long as I'm with you, everything will be alright," says Ikuko. And then a phone call comes in: Yoshimi gets the job! \(OワO)/

Oh but you know this can't last..... Ikuko takes her mother up to the roof where they find the red bag again. Something is up...
Later, in the bath Ikuko talks with a doll she made named Mitsuko. Hmmm....

The next day a game of hide-and-seek begins at school. Ikuko hides in a cupboard and sees a pair of feet approaching her. A pair of sodden feet.

Yoshimi gets a call from the school and rushes over in a cab. Ikuko lies in the clinic soaking wet and unconscious. Yoshimi gets a look at some student art on the walls and spots a familiar form complete with red bag.

Cut to Yoshimi speaking with the divorce mediators again. They ask her about being unable to pick Ikuko up on time. Afterward she confronts her husband about it and loses control, accusing him of leaving the red bag for her to find and attacking him in front of everyone.
Maybe it's from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni but I've always thought cicadas sound creepy.
The stain has expanded and it now stretches all the way to the edge of the bed. As Yoshimi dozes at Ikuko's bedside the water droplets begin to drip on her face and she has a vision of Mitsuko. Wearing her red bag and yellow raincoat she waits at school, no one coming to pick her up. She goes out into the rain and walks all the way home. Yoshimi wakes up to find the bed sodden and empty. A constant drip of water now falls on the pillow. What's with this child always wandering off? Her search takes her back up to the roof once more. While she is in the elevator she hears a little girl crying but she can't find the source. On the roof she catches a glimpse of someone wearing white go around the corner of the water tank. There she finds the red bag once again. She calls her husband, thinking he has their daughter again. She hears the pitter-patter of footsteps above once more and drops the phone, running up to investigate.
Well, now we know where all that water is coming from. All the taps are gushing water and the apartment is flooded. Ikuko emerges from the shadows while a silhouette of another girl appears on the wall.
Yoshimi does the sensible thing and gets the fuck out of there in a jiffy, but not before spotting that the previous apartment tenant was, of course, Mitsuko Kawai.
Her lawyer arrives to speak with her as she hurriedly packs to move out again. At his urging the manager and Realtor take a look at the apartment. He questions them about having neglected to fix the water leaks. When she leads them to where she found the red bag it has disappeared. The lawyer notices the water tank is rather dingy and asks him whether he regularly cleans it. The manager shrugs it off saying that's the water company's problem, not his. Nevertheless, repairmen arrive to repair the ceiling.

While eating dinner Ikuko remarks on the apartment's unclean water. Well, now we know why eh? That tank's never cleaned... tsk tsk. Later she finds the red bag inside Ikuko's backpack and demands to know where she got it. Ikuko insists she doesn't know how it got there. Yoshimi calls her lawyer but cannot reach him. Ikuko begins to open the bag when Yoshimi snatches it from her. A sudden vision comes to her of the bag floating to the surface of some water. She drops the bag, dazed. Something has occurred to her. Yoshimi orders her daughter to stay in the apartment while she ascends to the roof once more.

She finds the water tank overflowing. She places a hand on the water stream and receives another vision: young Mitsuko climbing the ladder to the top. AH, I think I see where this is going. Yoshimi climbs the ladder and notices that the last inspection notice is dated about the same time Mitsuko disappeared. She receives one more vision: Mitsuko, peering into the tank, dropped her favorite bag in. She falls in trying to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Ikuko goes to get a glass of water from the tap when a lock of hair comes out. Startled, she drops the cup when the bathtub tap starts to gush murky water. The tub quickly fills up and begins to bubble and froth. Ikuko stares, mesmerized, before a pair of hands reach out and pull her head under the surface.

Yoshimi dashes back to the apartment and hears the flowing water. Filled with fear she enters the bathroom and finds her little girl unconscious on the floor, her long hair covering her face.
She runs to the elevator, which nows bursts with water. As she frantically presses the ground floor button she watches with horror as the apartment door behind her opens and a tiny hand pushes it wide....

Yoshimi makes the sacrifice, offering herself to be Mitsuko's mother. Ikuko watches as the elevator doors close and it ascends to the top floor, whereupon it releases a torrent of water and nothing else.

Years later, we see Ikuko as a teenager. She doesn't remember much from when she briefly lived with her mother. She wanders back to the old apartment complex, now abandoned. The apartment door is unlocked and, what's this? Everything looks so clean. It's almost as if someone lives here....

Hands down, this is one of the best J-horror films ever made. I mean DAMN! Give it a shot if you get the chance. The atmospheric tension and the minimalist score really bump this film up there as one of my favorites.

I know I spent, like, four posts harking the superiority of the J/K-horror genre but I'll make one more remark here. A lot of these movies have sorrow as the supporting theme under the horror. I think this works much better than action, a lesson Hollywood has been slow to pick up. I would go so far as to say the horror/drama is a more potent combination than the horror/thriller. Am I wrong on this? I think not. Natch. <(◡ ̄ゝ ̄)> *smug*

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dark Water [2002] Pt.1

Ok, after that period of rest I think I'm going to do another J-horror film and its remake. Only a pair this time, no worries k?

From Hideo Nakata, director of Ringu [1998] fame, comes this little gem of a horror movie. The style is similar to Ringu but, unlike Takashi Shimizu of the Ju-on series, Nakata succeeds in bringing us a new story with his movie AND it works wonderfully.

So I've realized that writing 'reviews' isn't really what I'm doing here. I like to go into detail too much on an almost scene by scene basis so I'll call this what it is: a synopsis. \(O_O)/

Excellent sleep aid!
Horror movies take up a good slice of my life. While at uni I liked to hang my towel on the back of my white door so that with the lights out it made a dark shape against that background. It looked sorta like this.
After reviewing all those Ju-on's I tried to have a Ju-on themed dream for a week but instead one of my friends stole it the other day. What a punk.
The best scares stick with me. This is why Jaws comes to mind when I'm at the beach. I know I'm not alone there. Well, after you see this movie, you'll look at water tanks differently. I know I did.

Right from the opening credits I could feel some dread start to build up. Much love to Kenji Kawai for another excellent score. You might know him for his work on Ghost in the Shell [1995], the earlier Ringu, and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni [2006] among others. The first time I watched this opening I wondered what I was looking at. Later I would realize what it was. A view from under the surface. Now that's what you call fore-shadowing!

We move on to see an elementary class being dismissed, save for a single little girl, Ikuko. Her mother, Yoshimi, is being held up at a divorce proceeding. The actress, Rio Kanno, gives an excellent performance as a mother at the end of her wits trying to keep her daughter in the face of her cruel husband's efforts to make her suffer. That punk. (Òmó)9"
She goes out in search of a place for the two of them to live and arrives at a dingy looking apartment complex. The place is cramped, dim, and worst of all there's a moldy stain on the ceiling. No, worst of all there's hair in the tap water! But the rent is cheap and that's all that matters at the moment.

Our first little taste of horror, if you don't count the opening, arrives in the elevator. Yoshimi takes in the general state of disrepair and tries to hide her dissatisfaction. Her daughter's hand slips into hers and reminds her what she is fighting for. She grips her hand reassuringly and resigns herself. The elevator reaches its floor and her daughter takes off for her room. That wasn't her hand... From the lobby the apartment manager sees something odd appear in the elevator after the doors close.

While the Realtor delivers his sales pitch, in typical slimy salesman fashion, Ikuko runs off to see the roof. She skips around for a while before spotting something. A cute little red handbag! Complete with cartoon rabbit.
The apartment manager and Realtor don't hesitate before dumping out the contents: toys. It's clear that this bag belonged to a little girl before though he notes that no little girls live here now. The only thing he has to say is, "What luck for you, eh?", making no effort to find its original owner. It really goes a long way towards showing how little they care for what goes on here. Yoshimi declines the offer though, pointing out that they don't know whose things they were. What a good mother.
After moving in they hear some noises from upstairs. Some one is running around. How rude. Only then does she notice the mold spot on the ceiling which the Realtor ignored earlier. (Has it gotten bigger?) The next morning it grows even more and has started to leak. Although she keeps a smiling face on in front of her daughter, the stress of their situation has started to give her migraines.
She takes Ikuko to school after filing a work report with the manager. He only tells her that he will file a record of her complaint. While at the school she witnesses the principal reduce a child to tears for calling his teacher stupid. She quietly hides her displeasure with their harshness.
The stain continues to leak and grow while the manager ignores her pleas. She finally decides to speak with the noisy and leaky tenant of the room above hers. No one answers the door and she goes back to the elevator. However, as she descends she sees the door ajar and a little girl wearing a yellow raincoat standing in the doorway. By the time she gets back up the door is shut again. What a punk ass eh? Playin' her like that while pretending no one is home. (ಠ▂ಠ)凸
Later that night she asks about the asinine tenants but the manager insists that apartment is vacant! Curiouser and curiouser...

That's it for now. I always have trouble trimming these posts..... (^__^;;)7

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Memories gone by

Speaking of memories got me thinking back to some earlier times with an earlier person....

I lent my camera to a friend but he really sucked at taking pics. They all turned out blurry. I liked this one though. It breaks us down into mere shapes of colors.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Warm and rainy days

One thing I love about summer is the warm thunderstorms. When both the air and water are warm it feels really nice to bask around in it. Plus you don't run the risk of catching a cold.

The best one happened one night when I was at uni over the summer about 2 years ago. Around 10pm an amazing storm started up in the distance. Some really nice cumulonimbus types floated about, low and solid. The massive jags of lightning between those clouds lit up their dark fluffy surfaces so beautifully. At the time I had a girl ( ̄ヮ ̄)7 and I brought her with me up to the top of one of the parking garages. The rain came down heavy but no wind blew so the drops were massive but didn't sting on impact. The warm feeling of water on my feet and the lightning show ♥\(^_____^)/♥.
One of my favorite experiences.

That's it for today. A nice break after those intense movie reviews synopses I've been posting.

For those times when you don't have a thunderstorm handy? Use this!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Notorious MSG

Left: Down-Lo Mein, Center: Hong Kong Fever, Right: Funky Buddha
One of my favorite comedy rap groups recently released their first full-length album, Heavy Ghetto. Most of their humor centers around Chinese stereotypes and the sprinkles of Cantonese in their lyrics so I won't blame anyone for not feeling instant love for these guys.

That's him on the left.
Funky Buddha is no longer with them. He died in a drive-by shooting outside a Chinese restaurant in 2005. Fortunately, he was replaced by The Hunan Bomb who looks a lot like a skinnier version of someone......

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Grudge 3 [2009]

This is it. This is the last one, honest. Hell, what am I feeling responsibility for? I'm not the one pushing out these crapfests. \(9.9)/

This one is going to be short. I've done so much groaning and eye-rolling I should audition to be Kayako's double for the ghosting scenes.

Shimizu steps aside for this one and lets someone else direct. It doesn't help.

He's not laying on the couch. He's in the air here.
The story continues from the Chicago story arc. Jake survived from the last film but he gets served in under 5 minutes from the start of the movie. We find Jake in a padded cell when Kayako comes for him. The curse is just ludicrous at this point. We see him getting tossed around the room like a rag-doll through the security camera feed. Nothing left to the imagination. At all.

So Hollywood decided to take the exorcism route with this movie. Now Kayako has a sister who also deals with evil spirits. She goes to America to end the curse. Why she never did anything to stop the curse at the Saeki house, I don't know. In fact, the house is still cursed, yes? Go fix that first! Or are we continuing under the new belief that the actual spirits of Kayako & Co. are wandering around, rather than a curse? The difference is that the curse spreads everywhere while a Kayako ghost, vengeful though she is, can't be in two places at once.
So Kayako and Co. are now in Chicago, the Saeki house seems to have been vacated. So the sister, Naoko, goes to the apartment to fix things.

Our new cast of characters:
Max, the landlord.
Rose, younger sister with asthma (looks young enough to be his daughter).
Lisa, sister.

We get a bunch of people killed off without much characterization before Naoko convinces the family to participate in an exorcism, similar to the rituals her mother did, as we saw in The Grudge 2 [2006].

What bullshit. The curse exists outside of individual people, that's what made it so creepy. You couldn't fight it, it just got you. This intangible, malevolent force killed people. Now it's all about malevolent spirits. And for some reason they focus on Kayako. Hell, Takeo's the one who's really possessing people around here. Kayako kills all by her lonesome.

Nevertheless, by the time Lisa is convinced to go through with this Max has fallen under Takeo's murderous influence. He interrupts the ritual to kill everybody. Naoko gets killed like a bitch without putting up any kind of fight. Lisa and Rose just sit there while all this happens instead of running. Just before Max kills Lisa, Rose drinks the droplet of blood. The possession ends but OH NOES, Naoko rips off her sister's act and comes back death rattling and pale too. A new curse begins this day. Meanwhile, Lisa hugs Rose in relief only for us to see that Rose is actually Kayako. Kayako's spirit now dwells in Rose's body?

Thank you, Picard. You have a way with words.
Ok, none of this makes any sense. Kayako served as her mother's spiritual ashtray back in her exorcism days and she turned out ok, at least until her husband murdered her, but that was a completely unrelated occurrence. How come the exorcised soul, Kayako, is now possessing Rose?
Lastly, a grudge can start from anyone who dies with a, well, strong and burning grudge that remains unfulfilled. Right? So why is Naoko now an onryou, a vengeful ghost? It looks like anyone who is A) Japanese and B) Has long black hair, becomes a ghost?

Bullshit all over the place here. This is it. It's over. I'm done with this stuff. I'm gonna pass on Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo/Kuroi Shoujo [2009]. I hear they're crappy and I have no reason to doubt it based on what I've had to endure these past few days. I'll spare you guys the reflected pain too.

Hell, this post turned out pretty long too hahahaha. I can't help mah self guys. I apologize.

PEACE. ( ̄___ ̄)_V

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Grudge 2 [2006] Pt.2

And this should set my post count straight. (O______O)-b

Meanwhile, Eason looks over some footage of an investigator being interviewed about the Saeki house. We've seen this before. Kayako makes an appearance in the background of the video, makes some death rattle noises, etc. *roll eyes* He decides to go back the house and Aubrey decides to tag along.

Jump back to the Chicago apartment. Some thumping noises awaken Jake and he pokes his head outside to see the hooded figure going downstairs. Being the white guy that he is, he must investigate. Allison digs through the trash and retrieves a bunch of old newspaper. She uses it to, you guessed it, cover all her windows. This is the Izumi story from J:TG remade if you didn't already recognize it.

The husband seems suspicious of his wife, despite having just married her. I think Takeo's spirit is supposed to be possessing him but since when has any of the curse been about the dead people's spirits possessing other people to this extent? The vengeful ghosts from the grudge destroy people. Kayako's/Toshio's/Takeo's consciences aren't supposed to be floating around. I think that nuance has been forgotten at this point.

So the blonde, whose name is Vanessa, and Allison get called to the office since Miyuki has gone missing. Allison yells at her and takes off while the counselor leaves Vanessa alone in the room to chase after her. She dicks around for a while, playing with the pens and the desk lamp before it unplugs itself. She gets under the table to plug it back in when Toshio scampers past, startling her. We get the Mizuho scene from Ju-on [2000]. Vanessa takes off and ends up in a phone booth where she tries calling Miyuki. Apparently Kayako stole her phone 'cause she answers. Toshio grabs her knees and Kayako's hair comes down and wraps her in a bad CGI effect. The grudge now takes people in broad daylight. Where's the horror? I ain't feelin' it.

Cut to Eason and Aubrey. He goes in and finds Kayako's diary, discovering that her mother was an exorcist who removed evil spirits from people and fed them to her daughter, Kayako. I don't know what that has to do with anything, Kayako seemed like a normal housewife before the murder. They go back to Eason's apartment and he heads into a darkroom to develop some photographs. Kayako pulls a Sadako and takes him down. Rather than the death rattle noise, she makes a squawk/squeal noise when she does so, as if to underline how far this rotten apple has rolled from the tree.

The curse behaves differently in these American remakes. In the Japanese films it haunts and then kills its victims. In the American movies it haunts and follows and stalks, not coincidentally giving the director plenty of opportunities to jump scare us, before killing them. Guess which approach is superior.

Cut back to Chicago. The daughter randomly shows off a cheerleader outfit to her friend who randomly drinks a jug of milk before regurgitating it back into the jug. AWKWARD. Fortunately, Daughter gets a call from Jake, allowing her to get the fuck out of that situation. Mom and Dad have been fighting. Ruh-roh. The milk drinking friend dies in a throw-away scene. The next morning we come to the scene from the beginning of the movie. The husband has made a full transformation into his abusive self. Meanwhile, the wife is seen leaning against the wall adjacent to Allison's room. It almost seems like Kayako's spirit got her and Takeo's spirit got him. That's not how the grudge did its work back in the day....
Yeah, that's kinda my face when I found this movie.

Cut back to Allison returning to the counselor's office. The counselor assures her that nothing was at that house. She went there with the cops and they found nothing! YAY!! \(^o^)/
wait- you what?! (⊙Д⊙) Then we get this...

Cut to Aubrey on a bus heading to Kayako's mother. There's an old man playing peek-a-boo with an invisible kid. It looks like they actually got the wheelchair guy from J:TG to reprise his small role just for this reused bit. She finds the mother cowering in the corner of a dilapidated house in the countryside. For some reason she speaks English when the two nurses in the modern Tokyo hospital did not. Aubrey demands that she do something about Kayako since she "made her what she is". Wait. If the childhood exorcisms made her what she is, where does Takeo fit into this? Kayako's obsession with Kobayashi, the school teacher, and her subsequent murder is what started all this right? Now it sounds like even if Kayako had died a normal death she would have left an onryou. Shimizu, you're making less and less sense. Fortunately, the mother denies that the exorcisms did this. *phew* Continuity is maintained. Then the mom dies. (- -__;;) Aubrey takes off without phoning the police or anything. She returns to the house and demands to know what it wants.
Meanwhile, Jake and Daughter (Lacey) return home to find the house in shambles. Jake finds his dead father in the kitchen and Lacey drowned in the bathtub. Then he sees a vision of his mother being pulled under the water by Toshio. None of this frightening by the way. We're just watching the events now. There's no cinematography at all here.
Aubrey walks into a wormhole view back in time to when Takeo found his wife's records of her infidelity. Somehow she takes Kayako's place as Takeo's ghost kills her again.
Jake finds Allison crying in the hallway under her hoodie.

Verdict: Shitty movie. Yeah.. that's it.

The Grudge 2 [2006] Pt.1

The Grudge......2.....SHIT.

Anyway, this isn't a remake of anything. It actually has a new (shitty) storyline and new shitty characters with shitty actors. (_____- -)=3 *sigh*

Ok, so this may seem odd to compliment but the opening credit for the distributor Columbia Pictures had a nifty effect. If you watch this go check it out. Not that it saves the movie. At all.

The opening scene kindly lets you know you're in for a treat. The frying pan scene from Ju-on 2 has been pilfered and made worse. For one, why take 'inspiration' from the worst installment so far? Yes, Ju-on 2 was worse than The Grudge. The scene itself wasn't terrible. In Ju-on 2 that is. Here? They took the average husband and made him a cardboard cut-out of an abusive brutish husband. The average housewife is now a cardboard abused wife. They actually have you thinking, "You go girl!" rather than feel horror that the unassuming wife just killed her husband without warning. How misguided of a horror movie is this?

The blonde even has a goddamn TROLLFACE
After a "Previously, on The Grudge" segment overlaying the credits, we meet our protagonists: a normal girl and two "popular girls" who are obviously stringing her along with the promise of letting her join their clique. Oh yeah, there's an Asian, a blonde and a brunette. Guess which one is the odd one out? And what cruel prank are they challenging her to overcome if she ever wants to be accepted in? I'll give you one guess.

Less than 8 minutes in and we get to the Saeki house. To his credit, Shimizu remembered to make the house look burnt, maintaining the continuity with The Grudge. It turns out the blonde is the ringleader, which made me wonder: Why is a Japanese girl attending the International High School? And she's not even the ringleader of this gaijin clique in her own country. (__¬ ¬)
They dare her to go in the closet and count to 10. The door gets stuck and she gets double-teamed by mah boo, Toshio, and Kayako. Toshio, still makin' cat noises, you little demon you. *tsk tsk*

Now the scene goes to Buffy's Karen's sister, in California getting the boot from mom to go see Karen in Japan. Of course, Aubrey only speaks English. (⌐ ⌐__) This gives a journalist, Eason, played by Edison Chen, the opportunity to translate for her dumb ass and get them to meet. He's investigating the mystery of all these deaths surrounding the Saeki house and it just so happens he is trying to get an interview with Karen. Karen does a perfect job of making her sister believe she is crazy by saying all the wrong things and nothing to explain. The doctors promptly strap her down and usher Aubrey out of the room. When everyone is gone Karen decides to whisper, "Aubrey...don't go in that house." YEAH. YOU'RE JUST ALL KINDS OF HELPFUL AREN'T YOU KAREN. Fortunately, Kayako comes for her post-haste. Get that white chick! GO GO GO!
...Man. This movie is some shit. Honestly. Look at me cheering for these people to get done in.

Jump to that husband and wife moving in to his apartment. It's in Chicago, Illinois and the husband and wife have just married. *shrug* ╮(╯_╰)╭ The man's daughter is cool with this but the son acts coldly. The wife, Trish, puts her things in the closet, previously filled with Jake's things. Apparently, Jake is a real sporty kid since that closet had nothing but hockey sticks, baseball mitts, umpire gear and this room is decorated with a basketball hoop, team posters, etc. Ok, we get it. He likes sports. What cheap characterization. Next door a Mr. Fleming returns home with someone wearing a hoodie. Turns out this is the brunette, Allison. Jake sees Toshio loitering outside her apartment.

Jump back to Allison back in the classroom. The curse is still playing with her at this stage with black cats brushing past her legs and Toshio creeping under people's tables. It seems like Miyuki, the Asian, is also feeling it. The blonde seems unaffected until we see her in the shower. First she finds long black hairs at her feet.
The music cue tells us that this is supposed to be frightening but why? This is a girls' shower stall. Long hair on the floor should not surprise anyone. Shimizu's really starting to show some weariness when it comes to instilling fear in the audience. It isn't working. Attempted jump scare moments become more and more frequent.
A dress and what looks like a wig(?) hanging in the corner turns into Kayako who makes her trademark death rattle noise and take a step towards Blonde. I don't know her name. She promptly pisses herself and runs out of there. What was the point of that? I don't know. Are we supposed to laugh that the bully soiled herself so easily? But if we're supposed to be laughing we're not scared. What is Shimizu going for here?
Cut to Miyuki meeting up with her gaijin boyfriend. (- -____) Am I the only one who wonders why she doesn't have an Asian boyfriend? You got Edison Chen in here already so what's one more brother? They promptly head to a love hotel. (- -________________) This guy hasn't even had any characterization yet. What a ho. (That goes for both of them.) She gets nervous and hides under the covers. Kayako gets a little frisky with Miyuki before pulling her through the mirror. I lol'ed. Gaijin comes out of the shower and only finds her jacket. OOOH SNAP! Blue-balled by a ghost.

Well, I told you I like to watch bad movies and that I like to rant about them so... You had fair warning. I'm a man of my word. Also I am behind by one post so if I split this into two I'll be right on.... ha-HAA!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 [2003]

NOTE: Apologies for the late post, it's been kinda busy around here lately.

So you feel like these posts about Ju-on are dragging on a little? Too many? Seen enough? WELL THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS SERIES. How about that for some recursive emotion. Don't worry though! This one was actually really good! Let me say that again.
Good for you Shimizu, pulling out a good one after 3 iterations already. For those of you expecting a steady downward drop in quality leading up to The Grudge [2004], well, he sure played you didn't he? trololololol

After Ju-on, Ju-on 2 and Ju-on: The Grudge we finally meet a brand new cast of characters and a new premise. A pregnant actress happens to be unlucky enough to run across (or run over hehe) the curse and ends up losing her child (or does she?!).
Meanwhile, a reality TV show has taken an interest in the Saeki house and sends a cast and crew to investigate. This can only end well. \(ºヮº)/
So the host of the show, Tomoka, has been hearing odd thumping noises coming from her wall. One day she comes home to find her boyfriend standing in an odd corner, although he's rather high off the floor...
Here I'd like to point out a really cool thing that would only happen in an ASIAN movie. She realizes he isn't home because his shoes aren't by the door.

As usual the six chapters of this movie run in a non-linear order. At first I was confused because the curse seemed to be going after Tomoka before she'd come in contact with it. Mah b... (^_^;;)7

Shimizu introduces a new time-travel element into the curse which I don't really care for. It works but I can't say I like it. That odd thumping noise I mentioned? It's caused by feet hitting the wall. And that scratching... You'll see what I mean.

This film has a slower pace, much like Ju-on, and I think returning to that really helped elevate this film for Shimizu.

One by one the cast and crew of the documentary show fall victim to the curse. Most of the crew die off-screen, we only hear about it from one of the main characters. I have to say that while this film had a good batch of scares, it IS beginning to drag a little. At this point the nuance of the curse itself is starting to fade. If you approached this film without watching any of the others I'd say with confidence that you will like it very much. As for me, the mystery element wherein the characters trace the house's story back to the Saeki murder? Seen it multiple times. Kayako coming for each one? Seen that too. And there's one really bad CGI effect (you'll know which one I'm talking about when you see it) doesn't help. One of my favorite Shimizu techniques is when he doesn't show us the monster in motion, instead we hear the sound of the corpse dragging itself across the floor, falling through the hole into the closet while the camera tracks its movement through the ceiling, behind the door...

The conclusion to this movie reveals a very interesting turn of events for the future of the grudge. I hope Shimizu's all grudged out at this point because I think leaving things here is perfect. LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE DAMN IT. DAMN IT!

 Verdict: An enjoyable film and a definite jump in horror quality after Ju-on 2. I'd say it beat out Ju-on: The Grudge by just a little bit but lost to Ju-on by a good margin. Keep in mind that The Grudge hadn't come out yet so we'll leave that out but suffice it to say that Shimizu does not maintain the upward momentum in movie quality.

Lastly, once again I'd like to turn your attention to the lack of jump scares around here. Always a good thing. Let's hope everyone learned their lesson this time and no one goes near that damn house again! (ಠ︿ಠ)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ju-on 2 [2000]

ha-HAA!! Ju-on week continues! (ಠ ◡ ಠ)
After going through the first, its remake and the remake of that remake we now come to the sequel of the original, entitled Ju-on 2. Confused? Yeah, I'm not surprised. Here's a handy cheat sheet of what we've covered so far.
A Recap of the Ju-on Film Series Timeline
1998 'Katasumi' and '4444444444' appear in the horror film Gakkou no Kaidan G
2000 Ju-on + Ju-on 2
2003 Ju-on: The Grudge
2004 The Grudge (American remake)
Released in the same year as Ju-on, Ju-on 2 gives us a little more information and a bit more footage around the curse and the characters. Sadly a good 40% of the movie is actually just recycled footage from the first film. Yeah. WHAT A RIP-OFF. ( /ÒmÓ)/╧╧ *table flip*
The first 20 minutes of the movie is simply Kobayashi's portions of Ju-on, the Toshio chapter and the Kayako chapter, put together. Then we get the realtor agent and his psychic sister. Another 10 minutes of recycled footage before starting in on new stuff. I will say that it dovetails nicely between the first and second movie at this point but taking up almost half the movie with what can only be called a prologue is kind of lazy. This movie originally aired as a TV movie and I would understand laying out the previous movie for newcomers but it was such a hit. Why not assume most people would know the story at this point? A mere 40 minutes of actual new movie....
What you get out of this movie:
1) The extended story of the realtor agent and his family.
2) You get a little peek at how Takeo killed Kobayashi's wife.
3) You see more of Izumi's story, the group of schoolgirls who snuck into the house in J:TG.
And that's about it. This movie wasn't any kind of good, as much as I like Ju-on. This movie didn't have to exist. It's a cash grab as far as I can tell. Skip it. Just skip it. (- -_______)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Grudge [2004]

The American remake! You knew this was coming guys and I hope you were expecting a tirade cuz I aim to please. (O_<)-b

O Hollywood, you money-grubbing, ravenous scavenging bastards. Such good material and you had to go and enhance it. Why? The subdued atmosphere made that film what it was! Takashi had a good thing going there, you really did.

Was it a bad film? ....Yeah, it really kind of was. I'd like to make a note of the fact that a jump scare moment happens at 7 minutes and 20 seconds in. Yeah, not even 10 minutes and they throw one at you.

Ju-on: The Grudge started to lose its grip on the roots but this one just washed away, only hanging on to some residual material. I've already said my piece on the casting of Sarah Michelle Gellar.
I mentioned the lost mystery element in J:TG. Well, The Grudge didn't bring it back. Still, while the film as a whole fell flat, I will say that the final reveal sequence exhibited two points of improvement. Bill Pullman's acting hasn't gotten any better since Independence Day but whatever, I won't harp on that stuff anymore for now. The mystery wasn't as good as Ju-on, ok, but it was a bit better than J:TG, though J:TG was a better film otherwise. Is that confusing?
Ju-on Film Series Ranking (so far)
#1: Ju-on
#2: Ju-on: The Grudge
#3: The Grudge
Hope that helps. (^___^;;)7
How they should have looked.
But yes, the final reveal sequence. This is the first Ju-on film to show Toshio's death and explains why he's always making cat noises. Also I especially liked Shimizu's addition of the rhythmic thumping sound against the wall caused by Takeo's swinging corpse. Oh chills of awesomeness! /((>◡<))\ These were the highlights of the film. Everything else, faded shadows of what was and what could have been. Every single scare was punctuated by an unnecessary loud noise. Kayako falls out of the attic in front of the teacher instead of being found. These cheap little tweaks to try and make things scarier really just destroy the film. ╮(╯︵╰)╭
Toshio doesn't just meow anymore. He roars at people. What the fuck is that? The demise of the couple is just cringing to watch. The cinematography of the scene is horrid and just look at that green skin!
What the hell did they do to their corpses?
The sister of the couple, called Susan in this one, gets chased up the stares by Kayako's crawling ghost. (⌐ ⌐▂) What happened to subtlety?

J:TG - Hitomi is so dead.


Look at these two shots of the 'under the covers' scene. In The Grudge, Kayako looks like she's surprised to see someone in the bed already.

In a final act of spineless wannabe-ism, the final shot is a direct rip-off of Ringu: A close-up of  one of Kayako's eyes through her veil of hair.