films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Warped Forest

Asatte no Mori
2011 / 82m - Japan
The Warped Forest poster

Shunichiro Miki going solo. After joining forces with Katsuhito Ishii on earlier projects, Miki seized full creative control over The Warped Forest. The result is one of the weirdest and most mind-boggling absurd comedies I've ever seen. It's pretty much impossible to explain what this film's about, but for the sake of this capsule review I'll give it a shot anyways.

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There's hardly a coherent plot, instead you get a collection of sketches and characters centered around a small rural village where strange things are happening in the surrounding woods. People suckle on strange foods, giants roam among the regular people and a mysterious dream machine has everyone hoping they can find some happiness in their dreams.

Miki's world is filled to the brim with explicitly absurd elements that are to be accepted without any obvious explanation. Things might get a little too repetitive near the end and Miki isn't the most gifted director, but he's certainly a creative force whose particular signature is incomparable to anything I'm familiar with. If you love oddities and you're open to Japanese weirdness, this is a film that must be seen.


2008 / 88m - Japan
Drama, Comedy
Sorasoi poster

A mere 4 years after Katsuhito Ishii made Taste of Tea, he was directing low-budget indie films to stay afloat. It's a remarkable downfall for a director who made one of the most charming films of the 00s. Sorasoi is a cute little film, but hardly equipped to stand out in the yearly downpour of Japanese dramas.

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A group of kids is staying in the Sorasoi Hotel, which stands close to the beach. They joined a dance group hoping to participate in a yearly dance event, even though they aren't all that skilled. But their tutor motivates them, and as they get better at dancing, they grow closer as a group.

Ishii's quirkiness surfaces from time to time, but this is more of a lighthearted drama where kids learn about life during a summer holiday. There are traces of Ogigami's Glasses here, but the acting isn't as good and the presentation feels a little cheap. A nice enough film, but hardly a stand-out.

Funky Forest: The First Contact

Naisu no Mori: The First Contact
2005 / 150m - Japan
Funky Forest: The First Contact poster