Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Kanda-gawa inran senso aka Kandagawa wars (1983)

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Two sexually energized young women who live in a high-rise apartment building happen one day to spy from their window a mother and son making love in the apartment across from theirs. They decide to stage a rescue attempt to free him and in the process one of the young women ends up falling in love with the son despite having a boyfriend and enjoying sex with her female companion. Of course, the mother they are warring against has her own plans when she feels her privacy invaded. [imdb] Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Tôkyô sonata AKA Tokyo Sonata [+Extras] (2008)

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Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who began making low-budget features in the 1980s, is best known for his horror movies. His latest film, Tokyo Sonata, is something of a departure. It attempts to deal with the social and psychological impact of mass unemployment on a white-collar worker and his family. The movie is set against the ongoing destruction of Japan’s so-called “lifetime employment” system, the imposition of casualised working conditions, and growing social inequality.

Tokyo Sonata tells a typical story of these economically uncertain times: A middle-age salaryman, Ryuhei Sasaki, loses his job, but doesn’t tell his wife, Megumi or two sons — sixth-grader Kenta and college student Taka. Instead, he tries to keep up appearances, leaving home each morning dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, but spending his days searching fruitlessly for work, killing time in a public library or lining up for a free lunch with the homeless and the other unemployed. Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Rofuto AKA Loft (2005)

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This film was seen at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Film Comment Selects series, February 2006

Sloppy, silly, and incoherent writing mars writer/director Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s moodily detailed atmosphere in Loft, a story of mummies, cloying book editors, a haunted archeologist, and a hodgepodge of other, random horror paraphernalia. The film starts out with prize-winning novelist Reiko (Nakatani Miki) suffering not only from writer’s block but also from hallucinations and fits that involve coughing up viscous black mud. To help his famous protégé write a “popular romance novel,” Reiko’s editor rents her a house in the countryside, one that borders a creepy concrete building housing the local university’s head mummy researcher, Yoshioka (Toyokawa Etsushi). Reiko is not the only one suffering pressures of work and spirit. Yoshioka himself is experimenting on preserving a 1000-year old female mummy dredged up from the local lake, but is hounded by a colleague who wants him to present the find, and a spooky ghost-girl clad in black who peaks around corners at the most inopportune times. Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Kairo AKA Pulse (2001)

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~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide wrote:
Kiyoshi Kurosawa grabbed worldwide attention with his 1997 masterpiece Cure, a horror film that was actually horrifying. Sandblasting away all the campy cliches of 1970s quickies, Cure employed intelligent camera work, lighting, sound design, and a good story — and very little special effects — to prove that horror flicks can also be art. Kurosawa shows that he has lost none of his abilities to scare in this film. The first 30 minutes of Kairo is perhaps some of the most unnerving, frightening sequences to come down the pike in a long time. And Kurosawa accomplishes this with admirable economy, using little dramatizing music or flash camera trickery. Computers, cell phones, and other forms of technology play a central role in this film. Unlike in some tech horror flicks, technology in this film is not an evil in itself. Rather the horror of Kairo comes from how this technology separates and divides humanity from itself. Photographed in browns and icy whites, Tokyo is portrayed as a city of lost and lonely souls bracing itself for impending doom. As the film progresses, it shifts gears from a straight-up horror flick into something weirder and more existential — as if Andrei Tarkovsky directed The Omega Man. Some might be put off by the change, while others will be dazzled by such an audacious move. Overall, Kairo is an astonishing work that cements Kiyoshi Kurosawa has one of the masters of the media. Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Akarui Mirai AKA Bright Future [Extra] (2003)

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In Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future, two friends, young men who work together in a small factory, keep a pet poisonous jellyfish. At first, this does not seem all that promising as a setup to a film. Keeping a creepy pet is the kind of thing you almost expect kids to do these days simply for shock value. My best friend in high school had a pet tarantula and a pet rat. Another friend had a boa constrictor. If I had a friend who had a pet vampire bat, I would not have been surprised. Me, I had a cat. When one friend murders his boss over what amounts to an insult to the jellyfish, though, the movie becomes interesting. When the murderous friend begins instructing the other friend, Mamoru, on how to adapt the jellyfish to fresh water, the film becomes firmly entrenched in Kiyoshi Kurosawa territory. We know something horrible is in the making and we’ve got more than an inkling of what it might be. Continue reading