Audition (Ôdishon) (1999): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

It should just about go without saying that “Audition” is basically Takashe Miike’s masterpiece. If not then it’s the most accessible in where Miike is able to basically cut loose in a horror movie that begins as a romance about a man finding love again that descends in to darkness and torture. Twenty years later, “Audition” is a masterpiece of the genre, of film, and hasn’t aged a single bit since its release in 1999. It embraces romance, drama, a hint of dark comedy, and builds up to a fever pitch of a climax that’s both horrifying and will leave audiences feeling physically pained.

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Nose Nose Nose EYES! (2017) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival]

“Flesh and Blood” Shorts Block

This South Korean horror film by Jiwoon Moon is not a movie about ghosts or goblins, but about the absolute perverse horrors of greed and the evil money can foster. Director-writer Moon tells the tale of a small family living in a sheltered home. After Ji-hyo has a horrible nightmare with her father scaring her without any eyes, her mother Hyeon-woo half heartedly assures her that it was all a nightmare.

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Slamdance Narrative Shorts Block 1 [Slamdance Film Festival 2019]

Autumn Waltz (2018)
Ognjen Petkovic’s short thriller is a tense look at a couple trying to escape a war zone and make it out of enemy lines without becoming one of the many victims of the ensuing battles. Set in the 1990’s amidst a landscape of rubble, and torn down deluxe flats, a man and woman attempt to make it outside of Yugoslavia. When they’re faced with a barricade of ruthless armed soldiers, they make up a story that allows them free passage. But as the soldiers interrogate them their reasons for leaving their home land begin to fall apart. At the last minute they’re saved by the most unlikely source and it’s a testament to how the past can affect the present, and vice versa. It’s a well shot and tense short with some fine photography and I quite liked it.

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You Have to See This! Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) (1988)

Opens Friday January 4th for a New York Premiere 30th Anniversary Theatrical engagement!

The idea of the cost of war has never been more thoughtfully and emotionally conveyed than in Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.” The 1988 animated film is still one of the most emotional and powerful films I’ve ever seen, it’s a film that completely transcends all ideas of storytelling, and destroys any stigma that animation is a child’s medium that is limited in scope and substances, especially when telling human stories.

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Laplace’s Witch (Rapurasu no majo) (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Following a mysterious death, a scientist is brought in to hopefully rule it as an accident. As he does his research, a police detective desperately wants to rule it as a homicide. Mixed up in the middle of it all is a teenager with what looks to be psychic powers and her friend who has disappeared. What will they all find once all is said and done?

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Microhabitat (So-gong-nyeo) (2017) [Fantasia 2018]

A young woman living paycheck to paycheck on a very tight budget finds herself in a hard place when she has to decide what to cut from her budget when her rent goes up by quite a bit. As she tries to find a way, she decides to abandon the tiny apartment and go couch surfing for a while. As things advance, her situation becomes more and more precarious.

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Female Filmmaker Friday: Tremble All You Want (Katte ni furuetero) (2017) [Fantasia 2018]

A young woman who has never dated lives in her imagination and in memories of the one boy who made her teenage heart flutter. As she tries to reconnect with him, another option opens right in front of her. What will she go for and how will it affect her life?

Directed by Akiko Ohku who also wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Risa Wataya, Tremble All You Want is a sweet story about holding onto the past, looking for what one wants, having standards, and learning to let go. The way to film is built and written is sweet but not overly so, the lead of Yoshika has an active imagination and it adds a big chunk of whimsy to the story and makes it about more than just a girl chasing a boy who may or may not give her a second thought. Some of the scenes have a bit of a feel similar to that of Amelie while not having a similar color palette and shooting style, something that is definitely good in establishing mood but also in establishing the director as doing her own thing here.

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Aragne: Sign of Vermillion (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Saku Sakomoto’s “Aragne” is a real stab at anime horror that embraces its nonsensical story, and never actually delivers a narrative at any point during its run time. “Aragne” is thankfully a merciful hour long film, but one that’s a disorienting, and incoherent experience. And not in the artistic way. More in the realm that Sakomoto seems to have half assed a lot of the film and kind of took it in to the realm where he makes it looks intentional the whole way through.

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