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Battle Royale - Two Disc Special Edition [DVD] [2001]
Battle Royale - Two Disc Special Edition [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Tatsuya Fujiwara
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £6.78

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effortless film-making, 13 Mar 2004
When I first heard about this film I thought it sounded like a cool idea, if a little cliched these days, but after reading reviews all I expected was a pointless and purely escapist gore-fest. Though this is probably true to a certain extent, it doesn't really feel like a gory movie. There is a great deal of violence and death, but this is never really dwealt upon. People die, there names flash up on the screen, and we move on. Very little of the violent scenes are really gratuitous: there are only two characters who could really be seen as representing the mindless killing that we might expect from a film like this. One, however, we learn is not so much revelling in murder, as doing so to escape from the life she has been forced into. The other, the infamous Kiriyama, kills with apparent pleasure but without uttering a word. We never really know what we are thinking.
There are probably three reasons to watch this film, or at least three ways to view it. One is as a slickly written and filmed movie which bombards us with so many stories that we are unable really to predict what will happen, despite the many cliches thrown at us. This is the mature film-making of a mature film-maker, capable of keeping a film going without attempting to instil any overall message. The attempts of those characters we might expect the director to most sympathise with, those who attempt to rebel against the system (as I think the director did in his younger days) are thwarted by Kiriyama's dispassionate shooting spree, without the group ever really having a chance to carry out their plan.
The second reason is perhaps the multitude of characters and their reactions to the situation, which is quite explicitly established as a paradigm of real life, as Kitano tells Class B 'Life is a game. Now fight for srvival and see if you're worth it.' This is where the Lord of the Flies element comes in. No matter who a character is, their intentions will always be compromised by those of another. The characters are carried along by the system dying deaths as absurd and pointless as the game itself. The message is perhaps dark, but if you llike looking at the woorld in this kind of way, you'll enjoy the movie.
The third reason is no doubt the quality of the acting, with most of the characters played by school-age children. Its this that gives the movie its originality and subtlety. The relationships between characters seem as apprehensive and real as they would be in a real school situation. At the same time no character is a steretype; there are no jocks or geeks as such, and no time is spent lingering on past events which are proved now by the situation to be irrelevant.
I'm not sure this film can be classed a masterpiece, but at the same time is far more enjoyable than many films that would be, and not just in a guns 'n death kinda way. It's a beautiful, often subtle film, and though not exactly profound it makes no attempts to be so. If you're looking for gratuitous violence you might be disappointed. Suffering in this film is for the most part self-inflicted. This is a film about school-leavers fighting not only a world which despises them, but also a world which loves them.


Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics)
Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, but obscure book, 11 Nov 2003
I can see how it might be easy for someone to dislike this book: its central concern is the main character's inability to act, which for some might go against the very point of writing a story. But Sartre's genius comes in being able to highlight the many different sides to a seemingly simple problem.
This was (I think) Satrte's first published work of fiction, and really its an exposition not of his ability to handle multiple stories and different narrative styles, but of the philosophical ideals which he went on to write in Being and Nothingness. If you can't tolerate existentialism in its rawest form, its probably not worth trying to enjoy this book.
The story is essentially about a man who lives alone in a small French town, attempting to produce a book on the Marquis de Rollebon, an obscure french noble, having up until this point lived what he had previously believed to bed a fulfilled life. But in the writing of the book he soon comes to question what he is doing with his life now, and whether in fact he has ever lived. He soon finds himself falling apart, as he looks in the mirror, the deeper he looks the less he recognises in his own face.
The book is, due to its subject matter, a very isolating experience: Roquentin only really comes into contact with two people, both of whom he resents absolutely. Its the expression of an angry young man, angry as much at himself as at the world and other people. In this way it is hard to stomach, but this is what Sartre intended, hence the title. Every time Roquentin feels himself overwhelmed by his disgust at being alive he feels the nausea overcome him. This makes the book at times, for those who are able to empathise with Roquentin, very uncomfortable reading, but through this it s very rewarding, when we, with him, see some hope behind his anguish, some conclusion to it. Much like Camus's Le Etranger it is in the height of his suffering that he reaches real elation of self-knowledge.
In fact Camus's work is a good book to compare it to. That in itself is a fairly short and sparse work, and both describe a character who are confronted by the absurdity of their life. The difference however is the lack of a political edge to Sartre's work (though he does criticise humanism): Roquentin brings his suffering upon himself, while Camus's character is the victim of a legal system. For me, Sartre's approach is preferable, though others might prefer a character who is less passive than Sartre's.
Sartre's book is a book with we can question ourselves. Some might prefer his later more political orientated works, but for its intensity, Nausea is for me the more complete work. I gave it four only because it makes such difficult reading, describing both complex and disturbing issues about an individual's worth.


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