Monthly Archives: June 2017

“Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens” by Eddie Izzard— A Very Singular Life

Izzard, Eddie. “Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens”, Blue Rider, 2017.

A Very Singular Life

Amos Lassen

“Izzard is one of the funniest people alive, a talented actor, a sharp cross-dresser, an experienced marathon runner, and a great writer. You will have to read this if only to find out what a jazz chicken is.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer.

This is the first time in my years of reviewing that I have opened a review with a quote and that is because it says so much and so much better than I can. 
Eddie Izzard is an intelligent comedian who uses intelligent humor about everything from

world history to historical politics, sexual politics, mad ancient kings, and chickens with guns. He has a very large fan base and one that transcends age, gender, and race. Izzard’s writing is much the same in its candor and insight. He takes us into his life, writes about his mother’s death, going to boarding school, his sexuality, philanthropy, politics and acting in the movies.

Izzard’s mind is quick and he thinks about several things at the same time so it takes a bit of patience to follow him but once you get into it, you have a fascinating reading experience. He is a unique person who has led a singular life.

Beginning with his childhood, we understand that the early death of his mother became the defining moment of his life. He has tried to bring her back and we really see how this affects him.

As a student he struggled at school and used comedy to get through as he constantly looked for inspiration in his life. His career did not come easily and he did whatever necessary to focus attention on himself. He also explored his gender and his sexuality early on. He writes with honesty and openness and shares his relationship challenges, his feelings about his family, and the great moments of his career, and his addiction to sugar, his marathon running, health issues, and his regrets. Before I read this, I was not a fan and quite honestly I must say that I knew very little about Izzard. I feel like I have made a new friend and a very good one at that.

 

“STORMY MONDAY”— A Gangster Movie

“STORMY MONDAY”

A Gangster Movie

Amos Lassen

In 1988, Mike Figgis made his feature directorial debut with “Stormy Monday”, a noir-influenced gangster movie. From the beginning we are disoriented. The action takes place in a small British town, but one that for some unknown reason is holding a festival celebrating “America Week” where a character from the U.S. is running for office and we see that this makes no sense. However, instead of clarifying the setting and plot, the story moves forward introducing new elements and characters one after another with no indication of how these pieces fit together to make a coherent story.

The plot is presented through casual, almost throwaway snippets woven into the film and there are mumbled lines by the characters. I wonder, as do other viewers. why we should bother to fit the pieces together, when there’s no indication of anything worthwhile in the picture. It comes down to a conflict between the character of Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones) and a local nightclub owner (Sting), a conflict whose development over the course of the film is confusing and pointless.

It could well be that the screenplay left the “intrigue” plot sketchy in order to focus on the emotional battles being played out in the film. Although her role in the plot is never adequately explained, Melanie Griffith appears to be the centerpiece of the film, with her relationship to Brendan (Sean Bean) putting her in a situation where she must make a decision where her loyalty lies: with Cosmo for whom she works, or with Brendan, her new lover.

Then a light goes off and I realize that “Stormy Monday” is about the attitudes that men strike when they feel in control of a situation and the way they feel down when someone else takes power. “Stormy Monday” is also about symbols. It takes place mostly near the seedy waterfront of Newcastle, where a crooked Texas millionaire is trying to run a nightclub owner out of business so he can redevelop the area with laundered money. The movie uses a lot of symbols of America: the flag, stretched large and bold behind a podium.

American businessman Frank Cosmo fills the city with stars and stripes, parades, pictures of Reagan, a giant Pepsi bottle, and a whole lot of hand shaking deals. We know he is up to something but have no idea what it is. We meet Frank’s girlfriend-cum-accomplice Kate who’s lined up to do a “job” for Frank but before we know what it is, she backs out of it and starts an affair with Brendan (Sean Bean), a janitor at the Key Club.

STORMY MONDAY, Tommy Lee Jones, 1988. ©New Yorker Films

The Key Club is a jazz spot run by Finney who rejects a business overture from Frank. Brendan, now charged with ushering around a wacky Polish combo called the Krakow Jazz Ensemble helps Finney against Cosmo’s henchmen. Even without understanding what is going on, we see that this is a film with heart although we are never sure why.

Special Features include:

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

– Original stereo audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray Disc)

– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

– Audio commentary with Mike Figgis, moderated by critic Damon Wise

– New video appreciation by critic Neil Young, and a “then and now” tour of the film’s Newcastle locations

– Theatrical trailer

– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe

“RE-ANIMATOR”— Movie Mayhem

“RE-ANIMATOR”

Movie Mayhem

Amos Lassen

“Re-Animator” is one of the most wildly popular horror movies of all-time and now Stuart Gordon’s classic is back in a new special Blu-ray restoration and packed with special features. Medical student Dean Cain advertises for a roommate and finds one in the form of Dr. Herbert West. Initially a little eccentric, it soon becomes clear that West has some very strange theories one of which is about the possibility of re-animating the dead. It’s not long before Dean finds himself under West’s influence, and deeply involved in a series of ghoulish experiments which threaten to go wildly out of control.

The film is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror story “Herbert West – Re-animator” and stars Jeffrey Combs who gives a fantastic performance as the deranged West. The film war released in 1985, at the height of the ’80s’ spate of horror comedies and it’s irreverence stripped away the seriousness that had been part the horror genre and replaced it with a willful sense of the comic.

The humor here relies on verbal asides and the sheer absurdity of its situations. It is a very gory movie, so much so that producer Brian Yuzna didn’t even bother to submit it to the MPAA ratings board and instead released it unrated. The gore we see is both repellent and utterly intriguing.

West is a nerd gone terribly who has since become a cult figure around the world. We see him holed up in his basement laboratory, injecting glowing green re-agent fluid into a dead cat and realize that he represents science gone bad.

He is determined to defeat death by finding a way to get past the “6- to 12-minute barrier” after which someone cannot be successfully revived. However, he is so resolute and calculating in his desire that any sense of moral purpose does not exist. He immediately gets on the wrong side of the fictional Miskatonic Medical School’s resident genius, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), whose ideas West openly disputes in class. West is so sure of himself that he can’t help but verbally (and, later, physically) assault those who might stand in his way, intellectually or otherwise.

Dan becomes involved in West’s experiments, despite the pleadings of his girlfriend, Megan (Barbara Crampton), who also happens to be the daughter of the straight-laced dean of the medical school, Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). Dan is the movie’s conscience and is the only “normal” character in the movie. Director Gordon refuses to let anything be off-limits. He constantly increases the pitch of his movie using ludicrous situation after ludicrous situation. Things really get going when West decapitates Dr. Hill with a shovel after Hill tries to steal his re-agent formula, then reanimates his head and headless body. This leads to some ghoulishly comedic moments as the decapitated Dr. Hill combines West’s re-agent research with his own development of a laser drill used for lobotomies to create an army of reanimated corpses under his control. I will not even mention the sickest scene in the film that is audacious and tasteless but so much fun.

“Re-Animator” is not for everyone. Those who are easily offended, have weak stomachs, or is not willing to find humor in gruesome scenarios should not see this.

Special Features include:

– 4K restorations of the Unrated and Integral versions of the film

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

– Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Audio

– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

– Digipak packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Justin Erickson

– Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer Michael Gingold

Re-Animator – the original 1991 comic book adaptation, reprinted in its entirety

– Unrated version [86 mins]

– Audio commentary with director Stuart Gordon

– Audio commentary with producer Brian Yuzna, actors Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and Robert Sampson

Re-Animator Resurrectus – documentary on the making of the film, featuring extensive interviews with cast and crew

– Interview with director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna

– Interview with writer Dennis Paoli

– Interview with composer Richard Band

– Music Discussion with composer Richard Band

– Interview with former Fangoria editor Tony Timpone

– Barbara Crampton In Conversation with journalist Alan Jones for this career-spanning discussion

– Deleted and Extended Scenes

– Trailer & TV Spots

“COBY”— Transitioning

“Coby”

Transitioning

Amos Lassen

 

At age twenty-one, Susanna let the world know that she was beginning to transition from female to male and we realize that this was not a new thought; she had been thinking about it for years and she finally got to a place where she is at peace with gender reassignment. She knew that it would take her family time to understand and deal with the consequences.  Sarah, her live in girl friend for a few years now, fully supports and now that Coby (the transitional name chosen) gets testosterone shots, she is ready to give him the injections. 

Coby’s family live in the very small village of Chagrun Falls, Ohio said nothing when Susanna came out as a lesbian but this is different and they struggle with it as any family would. At first they tried to persuade her to change her mind but they are not accepting of her decision. (My sister went through this when her daughter transitioned so I know how difficult this is). The family is a close one and they support Coby yet they are concerned about how this will affect them.

Coby’s half brother Christian Sonderegger directed this documentary and because of that guards were down and the characters speak openly. This is actually a happy story without so many of the destructive issues that transitioning usually brings out of people. Coby’s parent’s discomfort is very real but their undeniable love for their child  goes beyond their own regret. Today Coby has fully transitioned and is now a man by the name of Jacob. H He still has one final major decision to make. He thinks that one day in the future he would like to be a parent and so would Sara but Sara does not want to carry the child. Jacob must decide now before he has his uterus removed.

“THE RING’S JOURNEY”— Happy Birthday, IUdi

 

“The Ring’s Journey”

Happy Birthday Udi

Amos Lassen

Matti Harari and  Arik Lubetzky co-directed “The Ring’s Journey” with a cast that includes Amit Farkash, Israel Atias, Tomer Shechori, Tamir Baider, Dov Glickman, Shmulik Levy and Esti Zakhem.

 

At his 18th birthday party, Udi experiences the trauma of his life when his childhood sweetheart, Raphaela, leaves him and kisses his younger brother Lior who plays basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Udi takes to his room for three years and disconnects from any human contact. He puts on weight and dedicates his life to “The Lord of the Rings”.  

Then when Udi turns 21, Lior informs him that their grandmother has passed away and left a will stating that if Uri marries within a month he will receive five million dollars.  However, if he doesn’t get married the money will go to the Friends of the Earth charity in Jaffa. His grandmother also left a ring with a mysterious electrifying power: If a girls puts the ring on but doesn’t love the guy her finger will be electrified. Udi then decides to leave the room and search for a bride in the outside world.

Joining Udi on his search are three others: Raphaela, who is now an up-and-coming model, his brother Lior and Lior’s childhood friend, Bechor.  Lior and Bechor are both gay but still in the closet and terrified by it. Udi looks for a bride amongst various unusual people including a transvestite, a dwarf and a Bedouin and they all for one reason or another, remind him of characters from “Lord of the Rings”. We go on a journey that is not soon forgotten in this very clever and funny movie.

 

” A WOMAN, A PART”— Having It All and Dissatisfied

“A Woman, A Part”

Having It All and Dissatisfied

Amos Lassen

Maggie Siff is actress Anna Baskin. She has a role in a hit show, but feels that the writers aren’t doing right by her character. She is also dealing with the end of a bad relationship with an addict, and a some addiction issues (to prescription drugs) of her own. In many ways, she is the stereotypical famous person who has everything and yet finds herself dissatisfied.

Writer/director Elisabeth Subrin brings us a film that unfolds without much narrative structure, and feels distant and meandering at times. Anna, a mid-40s actress is tired of her empty role in a sitcom and comes home from Los Angeles to New York for a reunion with several former acting friends. Upon her return to New York, she flushes a bottle of pills down the toilet and takes an air mattress from the closet but does not inflate it giving us a hint about how deflated she is herself.

When she first appears in New York this time, it’s at a birthday party of a friend, Kate (Cara Seymour), whose reaction to seeing her is a mix of excitement and anxiety. We learn that Kate harbors some resentment for Anna believing that she used their stage show ten years ago. Anna’s sense of situational irony says a good deal about her. She uses her financial success as a source of condescension toward others who would ask about her work in good faith. During a night of drunken karaoke between Anna and Isaac (John Ortiz), another buddy, we see that even though they are each smiling on the outside, they are hurting on the inside as they realize they’ll never be able to recapture their youth.

The film explores middle age as a time of attachment, loss, anger, envy, and guilt. Anna has mysterious autoimmune disease which has drained all her energy and caused her to sink into depression. She has been taking drugs for the disease and is hooked on them. She has reached a point where she wants to quit acting. Her manager Leslie (Khandi Alexander) suggests that she take some time off to consider the possible consequences of a lawsuit and the end of her career if she were to break her five-year contract and so she goes to New York City where she was once a member of a 1990s experimental theatre troupe, trying to work out some closure on her conflicted past. As Anna, Maggie Siff skillfully captures and conveys the emotional vibrations of a woman in a tricky transitional period in her life and career. Oscar is an ex lover who is married with a kid, but his relationship is shaky. He’s excited to have Anna around again, but you wonder if it’s real friendship he’s after, or the attention she can bring to his career that is not moving forward.

The revolves around the more general themes of addiction, gentrification, sexism, burnout, and plot friendship. Director Subrin looks at women in the entertainment industry, and the demands and expectations that constrain them. The title of the film suggests that Anna is not just the part she plays, yet she seems to have trouble getting away from it. The works as a critique of the film industry and Anna represents every female actress of a certain age searching for meaningful work. Anna’s opposite, Nadia (Dagmara Dominczyk), has given up her own work to be the rock of her family; her husband, Oscar, depends on her to be the stable one at home. But Nadia doesn’t want to be the rock anymore. We see a kind of respect for the characters and their flaws in this small film that explores gender as one woman tests her own self-perception.

“THE OLIVIA EXPERIMENT”— Asexuality

“The Olivia Experiment”

Asexuality

Amos Lassen

Olivia (Skye Noel) is a 27-year-old grad student who has started to suspect that she is asexual. To help clear up her issues, she accepts a friend’s offer to try sex with her own boyfriend. However, much goes wrong in Olivia’s first attempt to have sex.

Olivia she goes on a journey to better understand the nature of her self-diagnosed asexuality and to document her “experiment” (allowing the director, Sonja Schenk, to conduct real interviews with men and women of all ages and sexual orientations who frankly discuss first sexual encounters, sexual identity likes-dislikes and the meaning of the act to each individual. These interviews are feathered through the story as a subtle comment on what is happening to Olivia).

Being a virgin is depicted as having a mental disorder and the film is a bit too superficial and cliché-ridden thus making attempts at humor seem silly. While Olivia is attractive and intelligent, she has never been drawn to either men or women and has resolutely remained a virgin. Rejected by an asexual support group and told by faculty advisor that she should “live a little,” she reluctantly agrees to her freewheeling friend Felisha’s (Jen Lilley) generous offer to loan out her hunky, blond, surfer-type boyfriend Julian (Brett Baumayr) for some no-strings-attached sex. The ensuing “Olivia Experiment” becomes the subject of a documentary film that she decides to make with the help of her lesbian camerawoman friend C.J. (Michelynne McGuire).

The experiment quickly goes awry when Olivia responding to Julian’s genial sexual invitations with hysteria and she comes across as neurotic. The other characters, including Olivia’s gay roommate (Dan Gordon), her overbearing mother (Barbara Lee Bragg) and a nerdy mathematician (Kyle More) are simply broad stereotypes. By the time that Julian instead hooks up with C.J., who has suddenly discovered that she’s actually bisexual and we are quite bored.

The endless pressure to have sex is a theme that will resonate with many. We wonder, at first, if Olivia’s so-called asexuality is more emotional way than an actual (self) diagnosis. Her roommate, James seems to think so. We see what Olivia does not see, that the answer to her predicament is right in front of her

“NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR & HUMANITY”— A Three Film Series

“NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR & HUMANITY”

A Three Film Series

Amos Lassen

In 1973 and 1974, Kinji Fukasaku made a three film series known as “Battles Without Honor & Humanity” (after the title of the first installment), in which he traced the complicated infighting of Hiroshima gangs from 1946 to 1970. In Fukasaku’s world, yakuza adhere to codes of honor when it’s in their best interest, but otherwise they bully and kill indiscriminately.

Fukasaku begins the series with a still picture of an atomic blast, establishing the series as a critique of the “in-the-ruins generation” that was born in the rubble of World War II. The series starts in the Hiroshima refugee camps of 1946, where a group of young men get involved with the black market and ally themselves with the region’s crime “families.” Bunta Sugawara stars as the toughest of the lot, who watches his friends’ idealism get swamped by the job’s necessities. Over the next four films, the story doesn’t change. For 25 years, the yakuza families swap loyalties and butcher each other, while Sugawara does his best to stay out of their and make a living.

Altogether we get some seven-hours of double-crossings and random hits that make it hard to understand alliances even when a helpful narrator explains the action. Broken up into its component parts, though, the series becomes invigorating with “wild and tacky” violence. In a typical Fukasaku fight sequence, a man picks up a severed hand and slaps his enemy with it, in a shot that lasts less than a second. To bring some order to the chaos, Fukasaku frequently freezes the film so that we can identify the players. Fukasaku used a documentary style and unflinching bloodletting in an attempt to “understand peace through violence.” He openly questions whether the legendary Japanese sense of duty was wiped out by the atomic bomb, or whether it was always just an ideal for tourists and old movies, never meant to be taken seriously.

In the early 1970s, “Battles Without Honor & Humanity”, the series was a trememndous hit in Japan, and it began a trend in realistic, modern yakuza films based on true stories. Although Fukasaku had intended to end the series, he was convinced by the studio to continue it with leading man Bunta Sugawara, telling separate, but fictional stories about the yakuza in different locations in Japan.  In the following paragraphs, we look at three of the films.

In the first film, Bunta Sugawara is Miyoshi, a low-level assassin of the Yamamori gang who is sent to jail after a bungled hit. While there, family member Aoki attempts to seize power from the boss, and Miyoshi finds himself stuck between the two factions with no honorable way out. 

In the second film, “The Boss’s Head”, Sugawara is Kuroda, an itinerant gambler who steps in when a hit by drug-addicted assassin Kusunoki goes wrong, and takes the fall on behalf of the Owada family. However, when the gang fails to make good on financial promises to him, Kuroda targets the family bosses with a ruthless vengeance. 

In the “Last Days of the Boss”, Sugawara plays Nozaki, a laborer who swears allegiance to a sympathetic crime boss, only to find himself elected his successor after the boss is murdered. Restrained by a gang alliance that forbids retributions against high-level members, Nozaki forms a plot to exact revenge on his rivals, but a suspicious relationship with his own sister (Chieko Matsubara) hurts his relationship with his fellow gang members.

SpecialFeatures include:

– High Definition digital transfers of all three films

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

– Original uncompressed mono audio

– New optional English subtitle translation for all three films

Beyond the Films: New Battles Without Honor and Humanity, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane

New Stories, New Battles and Closing Stories, two new interviews with screenwriter Koji Takada, about his work on the second and third films in the trilogy

– Original theatrical trailers for all three films

– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist

– Illustrated collector’s book featuring new writing on the films, the yakuza genre and Fukasaku’s career, by Stephen Sarrazin, Tom Mes, Hayley Scanlon, Chris D. and Marc Walkow 

Disc 2 – Integral Version – Limited Edition Exclusive

– Integral version [105 mins]

A Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema – brand new featurette looking at the many various cinematic incarnations of writer H.P. Lovecraft’s work

“THE LAST BAND IN LEBANON”— An Unlikely Comedy About War

“The Last Band in Lebanon”

An Unlikely Comedy about War

Amos Lassen

Itzik Kricheli and Ben Bachar’s “The Last Band in Lebanon stars Ofer Shechter, Ori Laizarouvich, Ofer Hayoun, Israel Katorza, Dana Frider, Salim Daw, Itzik Kricheli, Daniel Gal, Hisham Saliman, Ehab Elias Salami, George Iskandar, Jamil Khoury, Ami Anidjar and Rudi Saada) and is set in Lebanon in 2000 after Israel Defense Forces let the area after having been there for 18 years.

However left behind were Shlomi, Asaf and Kobi, three members of a military rock band who woke up the next morning and discovered they were the only ones there having been mixed up in a major drug smuggling scheme orchestrated by their corrupt commander.

They are stranded and clueless in a “no man’s land” between Israel and Lebanon with a gang of Hezbollah fighters on one side, disgruntled members of the South Lebanon Army on the other, and no combat experience. Now the three soldiers must find a way to return to Israel with a guitar as their only weapon.

“PULSE”— A Strange Computer Virus

“PULSE”

A Strange Computer Virus

Amos Lassen

 

A strange computer virus is spreading through Japan and it shows grainy images of people senselessly mulling around their computers and asking “Would you like to meet a ghost?” Soon doors were sealed with red tape and the population starts to drop sharply. A group of young people get wise to this strange phenomenon and attempt to track down its origin. Soon smoke begins to loom on the horizon and city streets are empty.



“Pulse” uses the trappings of horror movies to give a meditation on urban loneliness. It’s an apocalyptic ghost story with some strange images and a surprising turn toward the end. This virus seems tooffer a portal to the afterlife (“Would you like to meet a ghost?”), with deadly consequences for the residents of Tokyo. One of director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s achievements is to present a distinctive and disquieting picture of Tokyo.

“Pulse” follows two intersecting storylines. One involves a young woman (Kumiko Aso) who works at a plant nursery in a high-rise building, whose investigation of a colleague’s suicide leads her to some very dark places. The second story follows a computer-illiterate student (Haruhiko Kato) who teams with a female geek who’s researching paranormal phenomena on the Internet.

These characters encounter mysterious and frightening images on their computer screens (and, sometimes on their TVs). The pictures are linked to various disappearances, as victims hide themselves in rooms sealed with red tape, then melt into walls and leave behind only a smudgy residue. The sequences are effective in their restraint; there is no shock scenes or gore.

Director Kurosawa is less interested in tying up loose ends than in creating a sense of melancholy and depicting psychological states like dislocation. In “Pulse,” characters ponder the terrifying possibility that the afterlife is one of eternal isolation, which reflects their own sense of estrangement. This is an intriguing notion, but Kurosawa works in roundabout ways, which some viewers will find far too slow and repetitive.

“Pulse” opens with the strange suicide of a young man, leaving his 3 friends to ask the usual question of why he did it. No sooner does they begin investigating the death then they begin experiencing strange events of their own. Meanwhile, across town, college student Kawashima decides he should try the “Internet” after hearing so much about it. However, his first experience is a bad one, as the first web page that pops up on his computer screen is one that inquires, “Do you want to see a real ghost?” Spooked, Kawashima shuts off the computer, but the computer has a mind of its own, and begins turning on by itself, connecting to the Internet, and returning to the same spooky website over and over again. We ask the questions as to why are people suddenly disappearing all over the country and who is going around sealing doors with red tape?

Kurosawa creates a intriguing and frightening “straight” horror film with an underlying theme of the loneliness prevalent in modern Japanese culture. This is the world we know, but it is suddenly completely different. There is a hopeless look and feel to the film from the very beginning and it continues until the bitter end. Everything we see seems to be in the shadows even if it is day or night.

Despite the presence of technology, the people are always alone, even when they’re among friends. The movie posits the question: Are we really still “connected” to our fellow human beings anymore? The film answers that we are not. With the growth of technology, we’re actually more isolated.

 

Every shot and sequence is covered from head to toe in doom and gloom, and phantoms easily and effortlessly appear out of every corner and every patch of shadow. The mise-en-scene in “Pulse” is brilliant and breathtaking without fantastical or magical backgrounds. Because this is the world we know, but not the world we know, and this is very unsettling.

There are phantoms who are in effect definitions of the word. They seem to quiver and slink and quite literally move in disjointed, “inhuman-like” ways. The coming and going of the phantoms are effective, and each time they appear, it is frightening. There is one particularly good scene where a character is inside a loud arcade, only to suddenly realize that he’s utterly alone. How it happened is a mystery to him as well as to us.

The film has global impact in that we see that the problems of our characters are the problems of the world. Many horror movies are so limited in scope that it’s sometimes difficult to sit through 90 minutes of our heroes trying to convince the world that “something evil” is out there. The world of “Pulse” is presently being invaded by beings from another dimension, and as a result there is a worldwide ripple affect as everyone begins to experience similar events. Slowly but surely, the world starts to thin out, but not in the loud and splashy way you expect. Like most of “Pulse” even the end of the world is quiet and unassuming. There are none of the usual horror film theatrics, no slashers, no blood and no fangs yet this is one of the scariest films I have ever seen.

Kawashima’s story runs parallel to that of the three friends, and they seem unrelated at first, but eventually merge in the end. The film is moody and spiritually terrifying. It delivers existential dread along with its frights. Setting his story in the burgeoning Internet and social media scene in Japan, Kurosawa’s dark and apocalyptic film foretells how technology will only serve to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives.