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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Viewing
Kotoko is an intensely disturbing and powerful film by Shinya Tsukamoto one of the most important and bold filmmakers working today. His previous films include Tetsuo, Vital, Nightmare Detective, Tokyo Fist and A Snake of June. In this film, Kotoko (played by Cocco) is a very disturbed woman with a baby who experiences double vision and paranoid fantasies. She cannot tell...
Published 22 months ago by Leeam

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Strong stomach needed.
For my tastes it was too vilent, and for the person (20 years younger) who I gave it to likewise.
Published 2 months ago by derek couzens


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Viewing, 30 Oct 2012
This review is from: Kotoko [DVD] (DVD)
Kotoko is an intensely disturbing and powerful film by Shinya Tsukamoto one of the most important and bold filmmakers working today. His previous films include Tetsuo, Vital, Nightmare Detective, Tokyo Fist and A Snake of June. In this film, Kotoko (played by Cocco) is a very disturbed woman with a baby who experiences double vision and paranoid fantasies. She cannot tell reality from fantasy and as a result is a threat to her self and her child. She self-harms and becomes hysterical and very violent at everyday challenges such as her baby crying or strangers approaching her in the street. As a result of this her baby is taken away from her. She then meets a writer (played by the director) devoted to her whom she begins a masoschistic relationship with. When she eventually gets her son back Kotoko only spins more out of control than ever.

What Tsukamoto does so well is use visual techniques and the performance of Cocco to immerse you in her world. As a viewer you feel like you are inside her head rather than an observer and its a very scary place to be. Between the outbursts of screaming and crying, bloody self harm and fantasy there are moments of serenity and beauty such as when she sings and dances in the rain. There is also humour as when she repeatedly stabs men in the hands with forks. There is one scene of extreme violence against her son towards the end of the film which I found hard to stomach. The performance of Cocco is excellent and natural. She weaves her own experiences into the performance and Tsukamoto shows how well he can direct actors and evoke the emotions he wants from them. The themes of violence, alienation, fear and transformation from his previous films are all present. Visually the film is dizzying at times with hand held camera, dissolves, natural light and some striking use of colour and surrealism.

Kotoko is a serious film and in my opinion an artistic work that deserves the critical acclaim it has received. It is a long way from the mainstream and this should be understood if you intend to watch it. It's worth having some appreciation of the director and his previous films beforehand. For those who like challenging films outside of the mainstream it is vital viewing and comes highly recommended. You might not enjoy it as such but you will certainly appreciate it as a serious piece of filmmaking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold, understated, bizarre and pace switches at the drop of a hat, 25 Sep 2013
By 
D. Gallacher "Goat" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kotoko [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Let me nail this down for you, if you don't like esoteric, unstructured cinema which doesn't make use of classic character archetypes, you're simply not going to like this film. It isn't about a girl meeting a guy and trying to make sense of the world, it isn't about a hero and a damsel in distress. This is a complex selection of finely flawed characters whose interactions can both baffle and confuse as well as thrill and amuse.

I was lucky enough to see the première of Kotoko at the Edinburgh film festival, and what I saw brought back such wonderful memories of Tsukamoto's early work, whilst stamping a new clarity of image, and hollowness of sound. The story is honestly a little too hard to nail down for a text review, but I will purely say that it involves a mother who suffers from double vision, and this ailment ultimately influences the rest of her life, in some cases tragically. She finds some respite, but ultimately the nature of this respite is possibly more dangerous than the affliction itself.

Don't expect love, hugs, and belly-rubs here, people. Expect a heady mix of dark and brutal imagery as well as ridiculous and light hearted set pieces. It is, put simply, a journey that I loved to take, and would recommend anyone else with a passing interest to do the same. Just please don't expect a Woody Allen movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Cronenbergian delight from a long missing Japanese master, 1 Jan 2013
By 
Rob Simpson "noframeof" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kotoko [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Director of Japanese filth and grunge, Tsukamoto, has been missing in action of late. Not really offering his fans much beyond the forgettable. He resolved that with his response to the Japanese tragedy in Kotoko. With a heart-stopping performance from Japanese musician Cocco, Tsukamoto stripped back all the layers to make a lo-fi drama about a woman coping with an increasingly aggressive mental state. Losing her child and meeting a potential lover in Tsukamoto, she tries to cope with life. She fails, naturally, Kotoko is a dark and dangerous horror/drama that reclaims stylized tropes to tell a genuinely disturbing tale. It uses loose camera movement to evoke emotional stress which reaches its peak with some great moments of psychical horror, the high point of which had be verbal express my shock. You'll know when you see it, believe me. If he keeps this up, comparisons with the classics of David Cronenberg will be coming thick and fast. As such this one calls comparisons to Dead Ringers and Spider.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant film. I've seen this listed as a horror ..., 5 July 2014
This review is from: Kotoko [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely brilliant film. I've seen this listed as a horror in several places which it certainly is not. It is horrific at times but not in a "oooh ghosts" kind of way. It is dark and at times difficult to watch. However its incredibly sensitively handled. I couldn't help but think that if this was American it'd be way more graphic and sensationalist. This has blood and is at times quite violent but it is not a Hostel or Hatchet kind of film.
Basically if you like deep, well made films then watch this. It is exceptional.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Strong stomach needed., 18 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Kotoko [DVD] (DVD)
For my tastes it was too vilent, and for the person (20 years younger) who I gave it to likewise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly brilliant, 14 Nov 2013
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kotoko [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
What happens when you combine a distinctively unnerving filming technique with a character who is more than a little mentally off-balance? Well, obviously you have a Shinya Tsukamoto film and everything that that entails, which means a deeply unsettling film that becomes even more unnerving as the horror deepens, but that can also include a deep, dark vein of black humour in that and perhaps less predictably in the case of Kotoko, even a surprisingly almost uplifting ending.

For most of the film however, the viewer shares a very disturbing view of the world through the eyes of Kotoko, a mentally disturbed and self-harming woman, a mother who is probably paranoid-schizophrenic and consequently a danger to herself and her baby. She sees people as doubles, one of whom she considers a potential threat to the baby, but she isn't able to separate the reality from the threat, and this leads to some considerable problems with sociability. Eventually, much to the relief of the viewer, her baby is taken away from her, but this inevitably only leads to a rise in violence and self-harm against herself. For a brief while, a man (played by Tsukamoto himself) helps her out of her dark place, a writer who seems inured to the extreme violence Kotoko inflicts on both of them. And Kotoko wields a pretty mean fork. It seems fairly certain however that all this is not going to end well.

Kotoko is pretty gruelling stuff then, and it makes for a deeply uncomfortable 90 minutes viewing, but a lot of the reason why this is so horrific is because Tsukamoto makes it so disturbingly realistic. The technique is brilliant, achieving an immediacy through the use of hand-held digital cameras, with jumpy edits and a familiar unsettling use of lighting and sound. The low-fi use of technical effects is also just as effective as it is characteristic of the director of Tetsuo, particularly in the bizarre transformation of Kotoko's apartment close to the end of the film.

Principally however it's the compelling and utterly involving performance of singer-songwriter Cocco in her first amazing acting performance that ensures that you aren't just plunged into a deeply terrifying nightmare, but that you can still see the humanity of Kotoko buried within it. It's an outstanding performance. Despite the bleakness of the situation and a still uncertain longterm outlook, that small remnant of humanity and hope remains at the very end of the film, and it is most affecting.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste, 24 Aug 2013
By 
Michael Oberhardt (Home with my wife and cats) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kotoko [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Before I start on the film, I'll say what I really like film wise in Japanese cinema. Everything of Sion Sono I've seen. Kurusawa's Kairo. Most J Horror. Not any of the Tetsuo films. Given I didn't like Tetsuo, I should have shied away from this. But I didn't.I found the movie horrid with a main character I loathed. The lead character I found so despicable I couldn't take the film. I'm not saying discount the other reviews. But if you like film where you can empathize with the lead or like the films I've listed, avoid it and save your money. It went into my rubbish bin...
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Kotoko [Blu-ray]
Kotoko [Blu-ray] by Shinya Tsukamoto (Blu-ray - 2012)
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