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'Weathering With You': Who'll Stop The Rain?

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The latest of Makoto Shinkai's gorgeous films that inevitably end up being about so much less than the sum of their parts

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'Birdy The Mighty: Decode': Gimme Back My Skin!

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A raucous fusion of two genres (SF and comedy), and just like its two main characters, it's a symbiosis, not a collision

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'Versus': No Budget, All Ambition, Total Excess

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Twenty years later, Ryūhei Kitamura's pulp-horror gumbo of Lucio Fulci, Sam Raimi, George Miller, and everything in between remains a micro-budget, J-indie milestone

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'Burst City': Punkocalypse Now!

Gakuryū Ishii's head-on collision between gang-war and punk-rock exploitation pictures still explodes on impact decades later

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Gakuryū Ishii makes two kinds of movies: films of great and resonant silence, and films so loud the screen threatens to split up the middle. Burst City comes from the first phase of his career, when all his movies roared over you at two hundred miles per hour and looked like they were welded together in a junkyard. This isn't a "punk film" because of its climactic battle-of-the-bands, but because of the grainy, grimy, do-it-yourself, no-future attitude spewing out of every frame. It's also shapeless and incoherent, and doesn't so much end as just crash nose-first into the ground. Of course I loved it.

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'Malice@Doll': The Machine's Last Love Song

Half adult OVA of the 90s/00s home-video era, half experimental stop-motion art film, and while not entirely successful it's still worth a look for its low-fi digital aesthetic

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Here is a project that is not entirely successful but fascinating for what it attempts to do all the same. Keitarou Motonaga's Malice@Doll is somewhere between an adult OVA of the 90s/00s home-video era and an experimental stop-motion art film, with the story elements of the former and the aesthetic of the latter. It falls short of real success, but it's not merely a skin show, and it has ambitions of a kind I wanted to see more of.

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'Vital': The Weight Of The Dead, And Of The Living

Shinya Tsukamoto's dark drama about a medical student obsessed with the cadaver of a lost love becomes a moving meditation on how life and death inform each other

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Do you believe that you will die? Oh, yes, “Man is mortal. I am a man, consequently....” No, not that; I know that; you know it. But I ask: has it ever happened that you actually believed it? Believed definitely, believed not with your reason but with your body, that you actually felt that some day those fingers which now hold this page, will become yellow, icy?... No, of course you cannot believe this. That is why you have not jumped from the tenth floor to the pavement before now, that is why you eat, turn over these pages, shave, smile, write.

-- Evgeny Zamyatin, WE

Most movies, when they deal with death, either don't really deal with it at all (action movies: somebody's shot and they fall over) or deal with it fetishistically (horror movies: how cleverly can we kill someone?) Shinya Tsukamoto's Vital is actually about death: how we deal with it, how we process it, how we confront the reality of someone close to us no longer being alive, and how we drive all of that back into some awareness of our own mortality.

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