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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Kuroneko

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Kuroneko

I dislike cats.  I’m aware that many filmmakers have the same lack of appreciation for the beasts with 9 lives. Cat’s Eye, Pet Sematary, The Black Cat, The Cat People, even A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 all feature these ferocious felines.

It was with much trepidation (not really) that I sat to watch today’s film.  I knew that I would likely have an experience of shock simply from the subject matter alone.  I braved my fears, however, and happily accessed my Hulu+ account to view this classic of Japanese horror.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 29: Yabu No Naka No Kuroneko “Kuroneko”

Kuroneko posterDirector: Kaneto Shindou
Year: 1968
Cast: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kei Satou
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Specs: 99 mins. / Black and White / OAR 2.35:1 / MPAA Rating: NR
Rating: ★★★ / C

After being brutally raped and murdered by a gang of wandering samurai, a woman and her daughter return from the grave to haunt and kill them.

What odd choices of filmmaking, such as random jump cuts, unmotivated images of a black cat, disjointed jumping of the plane, cuts of ghosts and fallen samurai bodies out of nowhere, and the continual bamboo forest immersed in a dense fog imagery.

Some of the visuals were haunting, however.  The women with their painted on eyebrows, floating in their white kimono, amidst the secluded cabin in the woods, certainly ought to be enough to hold the interest of many aficionado’s of horror.  Sadly, I found the aforementioned problems too problematic to be saved by the later interesting elements.

It simply didn’t rise above anything other than average.  Certainly not after watching the superior Onibaba.  Thankfully, however, it’s not as bewildering as House.

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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Movies

 

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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba

I’ve long been a fan of Japanese cinema. Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kon Ichikawa, and my favorite, Yasujiro Ozu, are masters of cinema few western audiences have seen. Amazingly, other than the run of horror movies that came from the land of the rising sun a few years back, such as Ringu and Ju On, I wasn’t familiar with any other in that genre.

Thankfully, a recent trip to the video store, and my viewing of their Criterion collection they have near the back of the store, I came across a few films considered to be classics in the J-horror genre.

With this new knowledge, I followed up my visit by searching both Hulu and Netflix for other films originating from the land famous for samurai, geisha, and ninja.

Happily, today’s film was one of the films featured on Hulu+ Criterion Collection. Without hesitation, I pressed play on my tiny appleTV remote, and took in the surprise that was today’s entry.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 28: Onibaba


Director: Kaneto Shindou
Year: 1965
Cast: Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satou
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Specs: 103 mins. / Black and White / OAR 2.35:1 / MPAA Rating: NR
Rating: ★★★★★ / A

I wasn’t sure how this film was considered a horror film for most of the film. I felt more like a revenge picture, and an excellently crafted one at that. However, [SPOILER]…

I was completely blown away by the twist near the end of the film that confirmed this to indeed be a horror film. The mastery that Shindou displayed on bringing together this morality tale was superb, and worthy of all the praise I’ve since read up on for this film.

It was shocking to see such graphic sensuality, given the year the film was made. Certainly not a film I’d be able to show in my film appreciation class without a major disclaimer.


The cinematography is simply amazing. The waves in the grass, the use of shadows, and the framing of each scene is a marvel to see. The acting is equally as impressive. This is not your over-the-top theatrics found in many other films of that same era. Instead we are witness to the depravity of war, and the loneliness of seclusion, in a manner that is completely engrossing.

I will never feel the same way when I am faced with the choice of the shortcut through the grassy field or the long dirt path around it. I certainly will be needing a proper foot cleansing after such a proposition presents itself.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Movies

 

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Vudu and HuluPlus on PS3: Streaming For All?

The deceptive lie. Can you spot it?

Sony recently announced that they would be carrying the Vudu On-Demand movie service on the PS3, thus joining the week old announcement that HuluPlus would also be joining the PS3’s digital media features which already include Netflix Streaming and the PSN store.

My first reaction of the HuluPlus news, according to the press release, was that of joy.  Advertising that “ALL Playstation 3 owners” would have access to the media that is available on HuluPlus for the small monthly fee (which when announced was $9.99/month, but was wisely dropped to $7.99/month mere days ago) was a welcome option to those of us residing outside the U.S.  That joy, however, was quickly diminished once visiting the actual website, where it was clearly noted that any ISP from outside the U.S. would be blocked.

The screen users outside the U.S. are greeted with upon entering the Hulu site.

The same thing goes for both Netflix and the PSN store itself, even though my PS3 is an American console with a U.S. based PSN account with a U.S. based credit card.  True to form, yesterdays announcement regarding Vudu followed suit, and will only be available to those living inside the U.S. of A.  In fact, the only option I have to legally obtain content comes from Apple via iTunes.

What is wrong with you, content providers?  Why must you block people who want to LEGALLY obtain your content, thus lining your coffers with cold hard cash, from viewing the media so many people have worked so very hard to create?  As an artist myself, I would much rather know that people around the world can see my work legally, easily, and pay for it than have them search the internet for a torrent of the film, thus likely never paying for the film once it does reach their market.

I believe that by installing such ridiculous crippling policies you are “hurting” those systems that carry your service (PS3, Xbox 360, TiVo, etc) from selling the machines they are attempting to unload by carrying your service.  Any person that resides outside the U.S. will forgo purchasing their unit for any reason beyond the obvious main use the device serves, opting instead for a device that will allow them to view the material you are trying to sell.  Don’t believe me?  Check any dozen of forums out there pertaining to those devices to see the flaming taking place.  (I will avoid using this space to write of the simply foolish act of charging $7.99/month and then putting commercials into the stream (HuluPlus), nor to write of the baffling charge of $5.99 per movie (Vudu) when sites like Amazon and the aforementioned iTunes offer the same content for $1.99!, as that would be a whole blog in itself.)

Even more baffling, I’ll point to the recent wonderful practice of offering films for rent via On Demand, Amazon VOD, and iTunes pre-theatrical release for the price of a movie theater ticket.  Recent films “Freakonomics”, “Client-9”, “Monsters”, and “[REC]2”, were all available for me to view via iTunes, yet were unavailable in my region on the other platforms mentioned.  What the reasoning could possibly be has left me bewildered, to say the least.  I’m confident many more with iTunes accounts around the globe gave money to Magnolia Pictures, as I did, through Apples wonderful program.  Sadly, much more could have been made had Amazon and On Demand not been region locked.

I’m simply writing this to tell you that you would easily earn my hard earned money were these silly restrictions lifted.  As you can imagine, I’m not the only person who holds these views.  There are scores of people who would pay for the instant convenience these platforms provide, as opposed to the hassle and unsafe practice of downloading suspicious torrents.

Take some advice from yourselves, and pay heed to the old proverb, “If you build it, they will come.”

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Movies, TV Shows

 

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