Kuroneko (1968) — Samurai/Horror (7/10)

April 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Kuroneko (translated Black Cat) is a newly-added title to the Criterion section on Hulu. It is a spooky ghost story set in feudal Japan, where a mother and daughter are raped, murdered and have their house burned to the ground. The daughter is married, but the young man is off fighting at war. The mother and daughter were attacked by a group of evil samurai men, which serves a major plot point for this film. A black cat, which I assume to be a demon of some kind, finds their bodies and gives them a chance to continue living as ghosts if they pledge to use the rest of their existence killing samurai and drinking their blood.

So, it might seem like vampirism, but it is not? I don’t really understand the need to drink their blood, but I assume that is what the demon wants. I believe it is his way of claiming souls for hell. As it turns out, after the years, the daughter’s husband becomes a war hero and is finally allowed to go back to his home, which is burned to the ground. The mother and daughter lure young samurai to their doom, and eventually lead samurai sends the husband to investigate/kill the ghost causing this mayhem. You can imagine where this might lead.

There is a bunch of wire stunts in this movie. People jumping, flying, sliding, etc. I haven’t seen a film like this since perhaps Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and that was a long time ago.

This film is certainly a “horror” film, but it is more atmospheric than in your face. I did enjoy the movie, but about half way through I began to lose interest. My family used to have an all black cat, and so I can’t help that I enjoyed a film called Black Cat.

Trailer:

7/10

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La Jetée (1962) — Sci-fi (8/10)

April 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm (Movies) (, , )

Let’s sum it up this way: La Jetée is an influential 1962 French sci-fi short film about a prisoner during the post-apocalyptic war-torn France after the events of WW3. He goes backwards (and forwards) in time to do things to help his captors, the ruling class, rebuild their world.

Sound familiar? It’s the storyline that inspired the 1995 film 12 Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.

If you watch the film on Netflix, you will get the original language (French) with subtitles. I watched this film on Hulu, and it was an English language version. Obviously, Criterion would not set the English language version as the “main” version if it wasn’t of quality. As I was watching it, I thought this dub was quite seamless, and that’s not usually how I feel on such things (the Disney-prepared Studio Ghibli dubs are good, as well).

The film clocks in at about 28 minutes, and so it isn’t very long. I would recommend you check this one out.

Oh! It now occurs to me (I did this on purpose) that I have left out on major detail. Maybe you’re thinking that this film sounds nice and what not but, really, what makes it standout? I will tell you what makes it memorable in my mind. The entire film, except for about 5 short seconds, is told as a series of still images. There is an unknown narrator that provides the exposition and dialog. I found it very interesting how my imagination was filling in the gaps where one would expect a film-like execution rather than individual frames.

8/10

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