7 April 2018

LOVE AND OTHER CULTS and WHISPERING STAR: TWO FILMS FROM THIRD WINDOW REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




LOVE AND OTHER CULTS and WHISPERING STAR: TWO THIRD WINDOW FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LOVE AND OTHER CULTS. (2017) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY EIJI UCHIDA. STARRING SAIRI ITO, KENTA SUGA, AMI TOMITE, DENDEN AND HANAE KAN.

WHISPERING STAR. (2016) DIRECTED BY SION SONO. STARRING MEGUMI KAGURAZAKA, KENJI ENDO, YUTO IKEDA AND KOKO MORI.

These two films are as different from each other as chalk is from cheese. I wonder how many mice it took to come up with this analogy, lol. I hope they were all properly paid, anyway. WHISPERING STAR is a marvellous, mostly black-and-white science fiction/dystopian future film that reminded me of an old B-movie in places.

LOVE AND OTHER CULTS is a louder, visually brighter and much more in-your-face film, as it tells the story of a couple of teens who've slipped through the cracks of modern-day Japan and are struggling to survive in a world that's actually quite hostile to anyone who's not a grown-up yet. We'll start with this one.

'Every story comes to an end and a new story begins. This is my love story.' Ryoto.

'I never fear solitude. I transcend (it), proudly independent.' Ai.

A girl called Ai is the central character here, although the story is being narrated by a schoolboy called Ryoto, who's loved Ai since they first attended school together. Ai is one of those kids who doesn't really get a good start in life.

She has no Dad and no siblings, and her mother is a checked-out religious nut who spends Ai's formative years experimenting with different religions. In fact, Ai is packed off to a cult commune when she's only a child. After seven long years there, she is only released from the cult when the police raid the place and arrest the leader, a total sleazebag who later turns up in the film again as a maker of porno films. Big surprise, not.

When Ai returns from the cult dying to see her Mum, the only relation she has in the world, her selfish, uncaring mother couldn't be more underwhelmed to see her only child. Ai realises the painful truth that she's on her own from now on.

She drifts from place to place, living with different families or groups of people who happen to be sharing the same space. Surrounded by sex, drugs, booze, gang violence, poverty and neglect, Ai changes her look many times while working as a prostitute, a hostess in a scuzzy club and a porno actress.

Behold, the many glittering career opportunities open to a girl with no family, no education to speak of and no real prospects! God, that's a depressing thought. Isn't that a depressing thought? Poor Ai doesn't really stand a chance on her own, does she?

It's so sad when Ai thinks she's finally fallen on her feet with a nice family. She's been invited to stay at the home of a schoolgirl friend, who has a lovely Mum and Dad and a nice clean house and a nice normal background and lifestyle.

In this instance, Ai's efforts to fit in are too successful. When the schoolgirl friend sees that Ai is beginning to take over Mum and Dad as if they were her own, she wants Ai out of the house and out of all their lives. She deliberately sets Ai up for a really big fall...

There's a rather quirky sub-plot in this film involving Big Kenta, an enormous, intimidating-looking but kind-hearted gang member, and a tiny little marine biologist girl who scuba-dives for a living. Do Big Kenta and his brainy girlfriend stand any more of a chance than Ryoto the schoolboy and the seemingly doomed Ai? It all remains to be seen...

WHISPERING STAR, directed by the maker of recent cult horror success TAG, Sion Sono, is an extraordinary film. We're catapulted into the future here as a young woman travels alone through space in a sardine-can of a spacecraft, stopping off at various planets we haven't heard of to deliver her cargo.

That's right, she rents a delivery spaceship, lol. Delivery can apparently be a few years early or late, and nobody really complains either way. Sounds like me waiting in for the delivery guy from our local chipper every Saturday night while watching X FACTOR.

We've certainly taken delivery of chips in the past that may have been hot when they left the shop many light years ago, but which are stone-cold and mushy when they reach us. Come to think of it, delivery by spacecraft might actually be bloody quicker...!

Anyway, this attractive young woman has nothing much to do on the spacetruck beside obsessively cleaning the craft, clipping her toenails (eeuw...!) and boiling the kettle for a nice cup of tea. She has spent the last fourteen years trawling through space in a world in which human beings have become an endangered species and have been replaced by robots for the most part.

Our girl is making recordings too, whispering- hence the title- into a microphone and telling her story of lonely space travel for the benefit of the next person or persons to rent Spaceship Z, her little craft. It's such a quiet, isolated-feeling film that we're almost inclined to think that this lady is in fact the last human being left in the world. Well. Seems like we're wrong on both counts and, yes, I said both...

The planets on which she alights with her packages and boxes filled with peculiar items are no more than desolate waste grounds. They look exactly how you'd expect our own Earth to look after all human life on it had been wiped out for some reason. The film is extremely well-made in this respect. The isolation is almost total.

The young woman shows no fear or disquiet, though, as she changes from her pretty little flowery skirt and blouse into the boiler-suit delivery uniform and sets forth from the safety of her spaceship into the dystopian wasteland that greets her. What creatures will she meet there, and will she be permitted to deliver her burdens in safety? Are there any monsters out there? We don't know yet...

The last scenes, which could easily be entitled 'Memories Of Life On Earth,' are terribly moving, beautiful and even a little bit chilling. It's a gorgeous ending to a very strange film, but one that's well worth your time and effort.

It might be the quietest and most low-key of all the dystopian future films you've seen, but it's none the less effective for all that. Otherwise they might have called it LOUDLY SHOUTING STAR, d'you see how that works...? Ah, you know I'm only messing withcha. Watch these two films. If you're a fan of quirky Japanese cinema, you'll love 'em both.

Both films are available to buy now separately from THIRD WINDOW FILMS.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






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