HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
You've Been Trumped Too
Woman in Black, The
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
   
 
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
   
 
  World of Kanako, The Her Secret Life
Year: 2014
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Stars: Koji Yakusho, Nana Komatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Joe Odagiri, Fumi Nikaido, Hiroya Shimizu, Hiroki Nakajima, Ai Hashimoto, Asuka Kurosawa, Miki Nakatani, Hitoshi Hoshino, Mahiro Takasugi, Jun Kunimura, Munetaka Aoki, Aoi Morikawa, Yasuo Koh
Genre: Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kanako (Nana Komatsu) is a picture-perfect high school princess: gorgeous, popular, a straight-A student and party girl with a fervent following. Then one day Kanako disappears mysteriously. Her father, disgraced Detective Akihiro Fujishima (Koji Yakusho) begins an obsessive search, using any means, in the belief finding Kanako will restore the idyllic life they led before he himself destroyed his relationship with now-embittered ex-wife (Asuka Kurosawa). Yet as Akihiro tracks down Kanako's former schoolteacher (Miki Nakatani), classmates and juvenile delinquent Endo (Fumi Nikaido), he discovers his seemingly angelic daughter was leading a sinister secret life. Far from a picture-perfect princess, Kanako is a monster that brutally destroys all who fall under her spell. Yet everyone, including Akihiro, still wants to be near Kanako.

A reoccurring theme in Japanese cinema since the Nineties is the notion that it is impossible for one human being to truly understand another, even when it comes to a loved one or family member. Such extreme alienation echoes through the work of auteurs like Shion Sono, Takashi Ishii, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sogo Ishii, Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kitano, etc. Almost all of whom made films featuring Koji Yakusho who became almost the de facto icon of urban male paranoia and alienation. It is a role Yakusho continues here in his latest collaboration with unpredictable visionary Tetsuya Nakashima: the mad genius behind Kamikaze Girls (2004), Memories of Matsuko (2006) and Paco and the Magical Book (2008).

Based on the novel 'Hateshinaki Kawaki' by Akio Fukamachi, The World of Kanako sees Yakusho essay that male archetype of pre-millennial cinema: the burnt-out cop, only in a post-millennial context where his raging middle-aged machismo is obsolete. Akihiro Fujishima is a rampant misogynist adrift in a post-social media, kawaii candy-coloured Japan that worships at the altar of youth and femininity. In contrast to Yakusho's more usual contemplative, even downright genteel screen persona, here he plays an absolute bastard. Akihiro brutalizes suspects and manhandles women throughout the movie, reaching an all-time loathsome low in an horrific scene where he rapes his wife then demands she make him breakfast.

It is bold enough to centre a movie around such an unrepentant asshole. Yet interestingly, far from a quest for redemption, the spine of the story tracks Akihiro's slow-dawning realization that he has not only passed his evil onto his daughter but that she has surpassed him. Nakashima interweaves the detective story with flashbacks detailing Kanako's relationship with a smitten, lonely and bullied high school boy referred to only as I (Hiroya Shimizu). Gradually the film peels back the layers of sweet soft-focus teen romance to reveal a reality that is truly nightmarish. For make no mistake: Kanako is a nightmare creature. In a remarkable screen debut achingly lovely teen idol Nana Komatsu fashions her into one of the most chilling and memorable screen monsters in recent times: poised, supermodel beautiful, scarily smart and shockingly amoral.

A few critics drew comparisons between the story-structure used here and the Harry Lime/Holly Martins dynamic central to The Third Man (1949). The World of Kanako also evokes aspects of Laura Palmer's descent into a shadowy twilight realm in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) and echoes themes prevalent in Shion Sono's Suicide Club (2002), another story where an ageing male detective delves into a sinister subculture only to find his own daughter is involved. An uncomfortable aspect to many recent Japanese cautionary tales where adults confront the excesses of youth culture is, more often than not, the conclusion is modern Japan spawned a generation of sexy, social media-obsessed sociopaths that are best wiped out. On the one hand The World of Kanako is among the most audacious and challenging horror-thrillers made in recent years. On a technical level it is a cinematic wonder, a tour de force of non-linear storytelling, bravura editing and intoxicating, candy-coloured visual trickery. Paced like rollercoaster ride through a fever dream, the film melds crazy Seventies cop thriller action sequences, extreme splatter, Instagram-styled photo-montages of kawaii-cute party girls, anime dream sequences and images of sex, torture and disembowelment. Yet for all the film's shock tactics, splatter and social outrage, its conclusions are frustratingly conservative.

Opening with a quote from Jean Cocteau ("An era is only confused by a confused mind") it justly chastens a lack of understanding among the older generation of unrepentant alpha males like Akihiro but fails to counterbalance its portrait of amoral youth with a single positive teen character. Even the few that are not terrifying delinquents are drawn as giggly, vapid and amoral, implying that youth culture itself breeds sociopathic tendencies. Such a blanket dismissal of youth culture blunts the film's social satire into empty nihilism: kids suck and it's their parents' fault. Nakashima wants us to perceive Kanako as a kind of ouroboros figure, both the product and architect of a sick society. Yet in casting a yakuza as the closest thing to a moral authority when he laments kids, young delinquent girls especially, have no respect for the old code, The World of Kanako unmasks itself as yet another tiresome example of men projecting their neuroses and anxieties onto young women. Which is a shame because, in its better moments, the film spins a nightmare unlike any other.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1083 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: