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  Ley Lines
Year: 1999
Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Sho Aikawa, Samuel Pop Aning, Yukie Itou, Michisuke Kashiwaya, Kazuki Kitamura, Dan Li, Ryuushi Mizukami, Ren Osugi, Tomorowo Taguchi
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Three scooter-boys leave the country and head for the big city, presumably hoping for a better life and instead find themselves way out of their league. Making money by selling toluene (a common abuse-worthy solvent apparently) and befriending a prostitute who has previously ripped them off, they hope to move on yet again, this time to Brazil, inevitably walking straight into a bloodbath.

Absolutely devoid of music (unless the voice of some red-light freak singing “Lick my little willy,” to himself counts) and full of static camera shots, Ley Lines is more like a documentary than a real film. It could actually be a real documentary about real people. Real people who just sit around and do absolutely fuck-all, nobody people in nowhere places talking about absolutely nothing. That, to me, is not the sort of thing that good films are made of.

Like Rainy Dog, this is downbeat, depressing stuff – actually, even more so – a stark look at the plight of immigrants growing up in a hostile environment, relentlessly pushing against the tide to try and follow their dreams, and often failing. It’s a movie to make us think, to scratch our chins red raw whilst we muse over its ideas and philosophies. But how in fuck’s name are we meant to take it seriously when every time somebody drops their kecks, there’s a huge clump of Rainy Dog style fluorescent scribble covering up the offending organ! Surely there must be a more subtle way of sparing our naïve, innocent eyes from these drool-inducing privates. Our ears are thankfully protected too; I don’t know whether they’re overboard racist slurs or the dreaded “C” word (heaven forbid!), but whatever they are, certain words are erased by a loud, high-pitched “Beep” (the subtitles are also covered with stars)!

Miike’s more twisted side does filter through a bit. One disturbing sight is an S+M session with a pierced businessman with a gynaecology fetish. Completely out-of-place, there’s also a bit of gratuitous violence dropped in; a severed hand lying on the floor slicks out like its very own sore thumb. But that final bloodbath I was telling you about? Well, that was actually a bit of a lie. It’s more like a primary school nerd-fight over who has the thickest glasses. Tame stuff indeed. Tedious, too…

Aka: Nihon Kuroshakai
Reviewer: Wayne Southworth

 

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Takashi Miike  (1960 - )

Japan’s most controversial director, notorious for his dauntingly prolific output and willingness to push the boundaries of taste. Miike started working as an assistant director in the late 80s, before moving into making straight-to-video thrillers in 1991. He made his feature debut in 1995 with the violent cop thriller Shinjuku Triad Society, and since then has averaged around seven films year.

His best best known pictures are the deeply twisted love story Audition, the blackly comic gorefest Ichi the Killer, cannibal comedy musical Happiness of the Katakuris and the often surreal Dead or Alive trilogy. Films such as The Bird People in China and Sabu showed a more restrained side. With later works such as samurai epic 13 Assassins and musical For Love's Sake he showed no signs of slowing down, reaching his hundredth movie Blade of the Immortal in 2017. A true original, Miike remains one of the most exciting directors around.

 
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