(mx) wrote: Marebito is a Japanese horror film directed by Takashi Shimizu who also directed The Grudge movies. It is about a man named Masouka, played by Shinya Tsukamoto, who carries his video camera with him everywhere he goes. When he stumbles upon a bizarre suicide in a subway station he becomes obsessed with the look of terror in the man's eyes, eventually descending into an underground labyrinth beneath Tokyo (yeah, easy transition from point A to B), where he meets the ghost of the man. Below, Masouka finds a girl chained to wall and brings her home- discovering she neither eats, drinks, nor speaks. Haha, I'm trying not to go too much into the plot here but this is starting to sound a little ridiculous. Underground world beneath the city, strange human like people called Dero's who live down there, and one batshit crazy protagonist.This movie is kind of a mess. It was shot in 8 days as sort of a little side-project to the Grudge movies and is full of loose ends. It's not a bad movie, but it's disappointing in how much more it seemed it would be. I do like some of the ideas behind Marebito. The idea of a subjective reality is the most engaging aspect. Masouka is a man obsessed with filming, with looking through the viewfinder at reality. He films and he watches back at his apartment. The four computer monitors all playing different footage imparts early on this idea of a skewed reality. He watches the footage of the suicide played on the news, the man's face blurred. On another monitor he watches the raw footage he filmed, unblurred. The theme continues throughout the movie, whether he is looking through the video camera, or a whole in a wall, or through a chain link fence, or through Prozac. Yes, Prozac. In the beginning of the film we see Masouka in his daily regiment taking his meds, but after he decides to explore the underground world he throws his Prozac away. This is perhaps the basis for his subsequent madness and insanity (or perhaps not, we are left with little by the end).Masouka's descent into madness was very, very well done I thought. It happens so subtly and without our fully realizing it until a particular scene in an alleyway takes place and we are simply shocked we haven't noticed before that Masouka is FUCKING NUTS and we can no longer trust him as a reliable narrator. The transition from unlikely hero to gibbering madman came so unexpectedly and so fully that I was pretty blown away, though ultimately the extent of his insanity is unclear due to the lack of explanations given by the director.That's the problem with Marebito is that there are so many valid interpretations. By the end we are not given enough to understand what has happened. Masouka takes refuge in his insanity (reminiscent for me of many Lovecraft protagonists who wind up in the nuthouse by the end), and there is really nothing offered by any of the other characters to help us figure out exactly what was real and what was not. Exactly how crazy was Masouka and for how long? Is anything he says in the end true, or does his insanity dismiss him as a reliable source of information? We need to know these things if we are to know what the hell happened. The film is just SO ambiguous that too many readings are valid and we are left with nothing solid. Perhaps the film was rushed, perhaps Shimizu just didn't give a shit, or maybe he thought it said exactly what he wanted it to say. More was needed to understand the end and that is not a sign of good storytelling. Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News said it best when she wrote, "Marebito never gives us what it promised: a glorious, totally new sense of horror."What disappointed me most about the film was the sheer awesomeness of its concept which it failed to explore. Underground tunnels, Hollow Earth Theory, alternative peoples living in underground ancient cities, the Mountains of Madness.. Shimizu just didn't give us enough. It's almost like he set this story in another author's world and indeed he may have as the Dero's, or Detrimental Robots, are openly cited as creatures from Richard Shaver's A Warning to Future Man.Marebito is a hell of a ride that promised to be more but is still great for what it is. If you can look past the faults what we have is a unique film about a man's descent into madness and depravity. Shinya Tsukamoto, who plays Masouka, gives a flawless performance and it is a pleasure watching him throughout. I'd suggest picking up Marebito simply for the ideas it teases into our imaginations.
(br) wrote: Robinson Crusoe is my favorite book and I was quite surprised to find this version - set in space - to "follow" the book so closely. All the key elements are there from the book including Christopher Draper naming an alien he finds Friday because of the book. While Mars is nothing like we know it now to be, they didn't know for sure then and it makes for exciting science fiction (still exciting today because it is not like the Mars we know so our first viewing we have no more idea what to expect then they did in 1964). The special effects were pretty decent for then and the story definitely takes this past a simple B rated sci-fi flik. Paul Mantee does a great acting job considering he is mostly the only one in the film. A milestone in the history and change of cinema and will capture the interest of anyone willing to give it a chance. Also has a small role played by TV's Batman Adam West.