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Noisy Requiem

Tsuitô no Zawameki
1988 / 150m - Japan
Noisy Requiem poster

A film that might be grouped with the oeuvres of Gakuryu Ishii and Shinya Tsukamoto. But instead of going for an overt punk aesthetic, Matsui's film is more subdued and poetic. In some weird, perverted way that is, as its gritty black and white aesthetic and nihilistic themes will limit the film's appeal to a niche audience.

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There are plenty of uneasy scenes here. Crude and unlikable characters showcasing repulsive and misanthrope behavior for seemingly no apparent reason are what makes this film a rather tough experience, especially considering its long runtime. But it never started to drag and Matsui kept it intruiging from start to finish.

The only reason why it's not a masterpiece for me is that I simply prefer the more vital and dynamic approach of its contemporaries. Matsui's more poetic execution is nice, but not that spectacular, which made me think the film didn't reach its full potential. But if you like Japanese grit and nihilism, it's definitely worth a try.

Where Are We Going?

Doko Ni Iku No?
2008 / 100m - Japan
Where Are We Going? poster

A decent indie drama, though not really a remarkable one. For those who've seen their fair share of Japanese dramas, it will feel comfortable and expected, but also superseded by more impressive and skilled entries in the genre. If you're starved for Japanese dramas though, it's a solid choice.

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Matsui's film finds itself on the darker end of the spectrum. Akira doesn't lead a very happy, fulfilling life and problem seems to follow him wherever he goes. When he falls in love with Anzu, a transsexual, things are finally looking up again, but trouble at work drives him over the edge.

The actors do a decent job and the unpredictability of the plot is a definite plus, but the presentation of the film is sorely lacking. Uninteresting camera work, rather bland cinematography and a dull soundtrack make this a barren-looking film. It fits the overall mood, but that's not much of an excuse. The rest of the film is pretty interesting, just nothing that stands out.