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'ID': Beastly Flesh

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Kei Fujiwara's sequel to 'Organ' ends up being more merely unpleasant than unsettling

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'Organ': Grotesquerie In Red

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Kei Fujiwara's symphony of sickness drowns you face-down in its excesses and lingers for a long time to come afterwards

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'The Strange Tale Of Panorama Island': He's So Unreal

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Suehiro Maruo's rendition of Edogawa Rampo's tale of wide-gauge decadence is both delirious and spot-on in its look and feel

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'Eros + Massacre': Living History

Kijū Yoshida's staggering epic of Japanese anarchists Sakae Ōsugi and Noe Ito defies categorization, synopsis, or easy answers

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Any number of conventional movies could have been made about the lives of Japanese anarchist Sakae Ōsugi and his lover Noe Ito: a thriller-like investigation into his death; a romance about his various relationships, and so on. Kijū Yoshida's Eros + Massacre does none of these things. It’s not fiction or historical reconstruction, but an open-ended meditation, a way to show us the ideas that informed his life, not just talk about them. It is hypnotic, exasperating, pretentious, fascinating, tough to get into, difficult to sit through, hard to set aside, impossible to forget. I don't know if I like it, but I do think I love it.

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'Blade Of The Immortal': Life Sentence, Death Sentence

An all-new anime adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's classic long-running manga gets it right at last

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This one's personal. Hiroaki Samura's Blade Of The Immortal was one of the first manga given major-league distribution in English, and one of the first I picked up on -- gorgeous, audacious, ambitious, violent, worth devoting a whole shelf to. It hurt to see it adapted twice before, as a short anime series, and as a live-action film, only to have each of those fall short in some way. Now comes a new animated adaptation that addresses the original story end to end, and it's as good a version of this material as one could hope for. It also preserves two things about its source I most hoped would stay: some hint of its remarkable design work, and the way it manages the difficult balancing act of dealing with ugly things without itself becoming too ugly to watch.

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'Children Of The Sea': The Life Aquatic

Some of the finest animation around, lashed to the mast of a story that goes nowhere

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Sometimes a movie can just be about an experience without being about a story. Angel's Egg is as inscrutable as it gets, but the sheer power of its imagery tells its own tale. Children Of The Sea wants to be like that -- less a story than a state of mind, a vision of things -- and it marshals imagery so gorgeous and meticulous it almost works on that score alone. Almost. The problem is it still relies on a story of some kind to make its points, and that story's delivery is too rudderless and unfocused to function as needed. An hour into the film I was still asking myself, where is all this going? You've heard of something being all tell and no show; this one is all show and no tell.

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