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Cold Fish [DVD]
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From the director of the critically acclaimed 'Love Exposure', comes the newest masterpiece from Sion Sono Shamoto runs a small tropical fish shop. His second wife, Taeko, does not get along with his daughter, Mitsuko, and this worries him. One day Mitsuko is caught shoplifting at a grocery store. There they meet a friendly man named Murata, who helps to settle things between Mitsuko and the store manager. Since Murata also runs a tropical fish shop, Shamoto establishes a bond with him and they become friends; Mitsuko even begins working for Murata and living at his house. What Shamoto doesn t know, however, is that Murata hides many dark secrets behind his friendly face. He sells cheap fish to his customers for high prices with his artful lies. If anyone detects his fraud or refuses to go along with his money-making schemes, they re murdered and their bodies disposed of by Murata and his wife in grisly ways. Shamoto is suddenly taken in by Murata s tactics, and by the time he realizes that Murata is insane, and a serial killer who has made over fifty people disappear, he is powerless to do anything about it. But now Mitsuko is a hostage at Murata s home, and Shamoto himself has become the killer s unwilling accomplice. Cruel murders gradually cripple his mind and finally the ordinary man is being driven to the edge of the abyss.
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His previously ordered world is turned upside down as Murata pulls him into his life of excess and insanity, at the same time changing forever his role within his own stagnating family unit. This film is impossible to fit into any neat category. Its part horror, part black comedy (its extremely funny at times), part serial killer movie, with a huge dollop of allegory about business and Japanese society. And its also a hoot - brilliant acting and direction keeps you hooked as the film gets gorier and gorier.
The entire cast is compelling as a group of seemingly ordinary people who are teetering on either side of major personality disorders. And its not always clear who the real psychopaths are. Only the fish seem normal. Possibly the strangest thing about Cold Fish, and what marks it most decisively as another master work from Sono Sion is the fact that despite its incredible excess and abundance of madness, it remains highly philosophical, and in its own way is a deeply personal film, an internal horror show of insecurity exaggerated and thrown up on screen for all to see. Easily one of the best films of the last year, at least for fans of the director and those brave enough to enter his warped world, it stands as yet another classic from Sono, and as a truly original and unique piece of modern cinema.
The Blu-Ray picture is mostly decent, but does suffer during the night sequences.
Overall I recommend this movie - it is powerful, raw filmaking at its best.
This wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but at 2.5 hours you could have cut two (better, and) entirely different 90-minute movies out of it – an Evil Dead style gore-romp, or Coen-esque black comedy. There are glimpses of superb direction and storytelling, straight off the bat, but they end up getting lost in the bigger-picture. Acting is also solid (the runaway star being leading man Mitsuru Fukikoshi’s full-bodied transformation) – although, along with everything else, it all gets watered down and lost within the superfluous runtime. This would, by normal standards, be anything but an ordinary film – particularly because it’s littered with gropey and sensational sex scenes – but when you’re following up from an epic like Love Exposure, this feels lukewarm in comparison.
Score: 5/10 from ParagraphFilmReviews dot com
This film, which I admit to watching in the wrong company first time around, is one of those, 'Wow, that was full on', pictures. Now, there isn't as much violence as you'd assume from the rating, unless you count the graphic depictions of bodies being hand chopped for disposal (it's not violence unless someones being hurt, right?). Though I will say the sex is stronger and occasionally more uncomfortable than I was expecting based on the ratings advice.
But now to film. Dark comedy about repression and personal fulfillment, submission and domination, basically. It's a psychological roller coaster unseen even in most Asia Extreme films. If you're familiar with any of director Sion Sono's work, you'll know he has a penchant for over-the-top-of-the-top visual styling and mis-en-scene. This is no different.
Here, the acting is spot on. The protagonist, so shy and encumbered by his own weak resolve, and the boisterous and bi-polar antagonist play so well against each other. The dialogue is so well managed it moves from funny to f'ed up, happy to angry and it takes you a few lines to even realise the whole mood has changed. Everyone, in front of and behind the screen, is kept on their toes for the duration.
I'm bumbling, and I'm sorry, this is a well made film. It is extreme. Over the top, but also very realistic. Asian cinema has that wonderful way of making extremes believable by first making you trust that the characters could be real people. There is meaning behind the madness. And yes, this one is oh so mad.
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vicious and some what bizzare story, but worth seeing.
Simply put this movie stuck with me for days!Read more