Double Feature: Seoul Station (2016) & Audition (1999)

Welcome to a Friday edition of Double Feature!

My initial plan at the beginning of the year was that Fridays would be for sharing my dive into Asian cinema (more particularly Hong Kong films) but hey, I’m a fan of all kinds of movies so as I ease back into the Asian cinema world, I’m heading into another Shudder double feature with Audition (1999) recommended to me by my fantastic co-host Elwood and the prequel of one of my favorite zombie movies, Seoul Station. Japanese and Korean double feature. This one is all kinds of different tags for why it works as a double feature already.

I’ve heard good stuff for both of these movies so I’m excited to check them out!

Seoul Station (2016)

seoul station

Director (and writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Voice Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Joon

Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul. – IMDB

With the massive success of Train to Busan (review), its hard to pass up the prequel that started the story. Seoul Station takes us back to where it all started pretty much. Although, who did bite the poor homeless man? We never will know how it started but Seoul Station focuses on a few people whose lives are intertwined and are escaping for their lives as the people around them are infested and attack the people around them. These clueless characters learn about what the zombies are capable of and that well, they are actually the undead. Seoul Station has its good and bad. Is it quite as good as Train to Busan? No, its pretty far from the tension and the story pacing and characters. However, that isn’t saying that its a particularly bad animated prequel. It does a good job to set the stage of what its successor can go from and builds an understanding of how the zombies in this world work. Of course, there’s still a lot more to learn in Train to Busan as movies like to make zombies evolve.

Seoul Station doesn’t have quite the exceptional characters to love. The main girl is made to be weak and whiny but somehow makes it through a lot of close calls. Her boyfriend that is on a separate area as they track each other time to meet up is pretty useless as well and makes a lot of bad calls and doesn’t have the guts. However, he is paired up with an older man who is tough as nails. There’s a whole story behind this and that leads up to the plot twist at the end. The story is somewhat generic but the twist was a surprise although the final twist was quite predictable. Where I find it excels is in its art. The movement and speed of the zombies have this blur behind it which is a lovely touch added in to make something of a motion blur and that works wonders for the aesthetics and effect. The areas and the zombie itself are creepy to look at. The tone of the movie and the backdrop here are done incredibly well also.

Overall, Seoul Station might not offer a unique zombie story and has its surprises and some rather predictable moments. However, it delivers on its art and visuals in this animated feature. Not quite as memorable as its successor but still worth a watch to lay the foundation for the next film.

Audition (1999)

Audition

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all. – IMDB

In many ways, I can see how Audition is a great horror film. In fact, its quite the psychological journey. Messed up and what not the further you dive into the plot. In fact, the ending is so weird that it kind of goes through a confusing phase. I still can’t quit figure out what went on. As psychological as it all was, it was one of those situations that never felt right to begin with. Auditioning for girls for a role that fitted into what this widower wanted, not sure I’m okay with that since it feels pretty contrived and manipulative in the first place. Nothing good comes from that. Then the girl herself was really weird to begin with but apparently Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) saw something in her.

The story has many layers and to be fair, it works for the most part. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Audition. There are some solid atmosphere here and the pacing is fairly good. The cinematography and sound design is great in boosting the atmosphere. The star of the show probably did have to go to the girl here played by Eihi Shiina who was so creepy and mysterious. The final moments however kind of did it for me. What started out as psychological turned into this torture porn that turned my stomach a little and I’m usually not so easily disturbed by it. If that was the intention, it definitely achieved its goal but for myself, I felt like it didn’t fit in so well.

I can’t quite pinpoint what I felt let me down for Audition but it just didn’t feel like it ever reached the potential before heading in directions I wasn’t too fond of. I do acknowledge it has some great character and a lot of mystery and atmospheric horror. But something just didn’t work completely for myself.

That’s it for this Asian Horror double feature!
I anticipated watching both of these quite a bit but both of them let me down just a little.
I can definitely see their merit but it just wasn’t exactly for me particularly Audition.

Have you seen these two? Thoughts?

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Horror Marathon: Pulse/Kairo (2001)

And we’re here! The final review of the horror marathon! This year’s definitely been a much better success than last year even if we hit a little bumpy patch the last few days! I’ll do a recap on the changes and such for tomorrow. I have a little new thing lately and this opened up a whole new trove of horror movies to check out which means I’m not really taking a horror movie break after the marathon ends as you’ll still see them scattered about. For the last movie was the original of a remake movie that I like quite a bit (even if others don’t), Pulse. I’ve never seen the original Japanese version of Pulse before so I’m pretty excited to check it out especially when I have quite the treat for you  in about a week related to the director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It just seems like everything is aligning to work out perfectly.

Let’s check it out!

Pulse (original title: Kairo) (2001)

Pulse 2001

Director & writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Cast: Haruhiko Kato, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo

Two groups of people discover evidence that suggests spirits may be trying to invade the human world through the Internet. – IMDB

I guess its important to mention that we are big fans of the remake of Pulse. Perhaps it has its issues but we like it because it does have a nice creep factor and there are some scenes that truly do get us. However, Pulse was also one of those first horror films that I watched eons ago and haven’t revisited so maybe after being exposed more to other horror films, I’m like it less now. I’ll have to review it one day for here. However, from what I remember of the remake and this one, it does take the same story and uses a different approach. There are some scenes that seem to reflect each other however, it still sends off a different vibe. For those who like slower, psychological and a building suspense and creepy atmosphere, the original Pulse does it so well. I didn’t even know I was scared until after the movie ended and I was scared to go into dark rooms (I’m already afraid of the dark so it doesn’t help) and then looking deep into dark corners and the whole thing. I’m writing this piece up at night so the images of the movies are scaring the heck out of me, by the way. Excuse me if there are no images. I just can’t… I guess that is a testament on how I feel about the movie, which is that it is done pretty great.

With that said, I do think the idea of reading subtitles (which usually doesn’t bother me) did hinder the experience because the translation was a little odd. I also thought that some of the story was pretty slow and a little predictable. So slow movies and subtitle reading can sometimes have its issues. Pulse does keep you engaged as you try to figure out what is going on. You might know the story a little or not but from our memories of the remake, this does shed a different angle to that story. If anything, this one has a more mysterious vibe to it. It gives you less of a back story but more like some scientific stuff and spiritual talk and images to piece what the whole deal that these people dragged into the mix make their own conclusions. I like movies that don’t shove everything in your face and let you decipher the story.

Perhaps what I like the most about Pulse is the atmosphere and just how it portrayed the spirits. Everything feels so uneasy. It keeps teasing you to expect something to show up or happen and it may or may not. It plays around with your anticipations and expectations and I love that so much. Talking about the spirits (just a little), the introduction of the first one is feels a little weird but I’m telling you, perhaps its the weirdness that has it stuck on my mind right now and whenever I think about it, it just downright creeps me out and makes me incredibly uneasy.

With that said, quick review for Pulse, see it if you haven’t. If you hated the remake and have no interest in the original, I’d say to give it a go anyways. Its pretty neat and takes on a different angle from the remake. It is a tad slow and there’s some scientific talk and its rather dated, but there are some effective creepy moments and the whole tone of the film and atmosphere works really well.

Restaurant: Kinton Ramen (Montreal, Canada)

I’m super behind on some restaurant stuff lately. A week or so ago, my friend and I had a change in plans and ended up going to Kinton Ramen for dinner. Japanese ramen noodle restaurants have had an a huge popularity in Montreal in the last few years. I’ve never been to this one before but its in downtown Montreal. We got really lucky and found a decent parking spot so let’s check it out!

Kinton Ramen

Combo Menu

Kinton ramen

There is another main menu which has some appetizers and a similar ramen choices sort of menu to customize however there is a slight price difference. We each took one of these combos.

Tea

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about these before but I had these types of teabags when I went to the Maritimes for vacation this summer. Its a pretty interesting way as it just overlaps the side of the cup. Its a cute idea. Back to the tea, it was a good green tea.

Appetizers

Kinton Ramen

The actual appetizer here is the fried chicken. My friend wanted to order this. I took a taste of one piece of it. Its very tasty. Crispy outside and tender on the inside, it was really good.

Meal

Kinton Ramen

Kinton Ramen

My friend took the little extra for his meal on the top. Its rice with some chicken and whatnot. It was alright. I didn’t end up taking it since I already had the chicken combo (where as he had the pork one). You get to customize what you put in including the type of noodles and the soup base. That is nice to have those choices. I chose the normal soup base with thin noodles along with seaweed, scallions and the egg came with the base meal already. There may have been other stuff I added but I can’t remember anymore. The day we went was starting to get a little cooler. Autumn weather is definitely hitting us earlier this year so it was nice to have some warm soup noodles. Everything was very delicious and done really well.

Overall…Kinton Ramen is definitely worth a visit. The food is great. The service is quick and friendly. Plus, its always a bonus to have the customization options for how you want in your noodles. Just beware that the options do add up in price. 😉

Podcast: The Random Chat Show Reviews Ghost in the Shell!

This week’s The Random Chat Show features a widely discussed movie that is getting a reboot. Ghost in the Shell is our featured film.  We talk about the 1995 sci-fi animated film and dive a little into the topic of Scarlett Johansson being in this when there are some choices we would have preferred. Join us and see how you do in this week’s sci-fi animated film trivia!

Hope you enjoy! 🙂

 

 

Resolutions 2016: Battle Royale

Check out my review of Battle Royale over at Silver Screen Serenade for her wonderful series, Resolutions!

Silver Screen Serenade

battle royale 2.5

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your week has been a splendid one. Apologies for failing at getting my post out yesterday, buuuuut I have another fantastic guest post for my Resolutions series today! The lovely Miss Kim of the equally lovely Tranquil Dreams kindly decided to drop in and talk about her film resolution!

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