Alive
ALIVE. 2002
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

SYNESTHESIA: DIVINE THRILLER
(GIMI HEBUN) 2005
Director: Toru Matsuura

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl




Alive After murderer Tenshu (Hideo Sakaki) survives a faked execution by electric chair, he's pretty startled to be Alive (2002).

Legally he's now dead; he can just be disappeared. He is transferred to an underground experimental chamber where he is pitted against a rapist-psychopath & a woman possessed by a powerful alien life form.

Based on a comic book, there is no depth to this thing, but the performances are good enough to sustain interest on the stagey limited sets.

As it turns into a supernatural kung fu fest toward the end, it is kind of silly because apart from some special lighting FX the fighting skills of the characters are par for the course & convey no paranormal dimension above & beyond the action sequences of films not pretending to convey fantasy powers.

AliveThe absurdist plot provides a "reason" for the experiment: the alien possessing the young woman wants to live in the meanest baddest person it can find.

Therefore the two murderers are supposed to be incited to increasing violence until the alien moves out of the girl (saving her) & into one of the murderers who were already condemend to death anyway.

But a higher government agency has another agenda related to turning humans into weapons. They want to find someone who can be, ahem, "safely" possessed by the alien & gain all its fighting skills.

The worse-than-the-alien govenrment agency has also created a human/alien clone super-warrior, & the ultimate point of their experiments seems to be to get two super warriors out of billions of yen of research monies, then see if they can kill each other, thus wasting all that time & investment.

Alive is remarkably moronic, but while in a moronic mood it can be somewhat fun.



Synethesia In Synesthesia: Divine Thriller; or, just Synesthesia (Gimi hebun, literally "Give Me Heaven," 2005), Shin Hayama (Yosuke Eguchi) has adapted to the condition known as synethesia, which causes him to perceive sound as shapes or colors, & his other senses are likewise skewed.

Although he has submerged his condition enough to fit into the world pretty well, the fact that he does not know what the world is like to other people gives him a certain loneliness.

A serial killer who goes by the name Picasso has slain the foster parents of Mari Michiki (Aoi Miyazaki), & left her for dead as well. Shin's friend Takashi Nohara (Masanobu Ando) makes it his mission to protect Mari from this underground killer.

SynethesiaThis mysterious villain is evidently a "synethesthete" whom only someone like Shin who shares the condition is apt to be able to understand sufficiently to track down.

Picasso provides live-cam access to suicides & murders to on-line subscribers, & has seemingly targetted Mari for special torments, as well as Takashi for daring to establish himself as Mari's protector.

One of Picasso's on-line video games is so difficult to play almost no one has ever reached the end, but those who do are privileged to see behind the mask & can meet the legend himself.

The side-effect of the game, however, is that it alters the mind of the player, resulting in a suicidal impulse & eagerness to be filmed at the moment of death, perpetuating Picasso's vicous industry.

Picasso has a wide-spread legended status for his webcasts, but it seems that no one who remained alive has ever seen him face to face. When we finally do get to see him, he's played by the effeminately beautiful Ryuhei Matsuda who lends Picasso a quiet eeriness.

SynethesiaRyuhei's most exciting role was as the psychotic homosexual samurai Hijikata in Gohatto (Taboo, 1999), & Synethesia does not provide him quite so much room to be impressive, but he's just naturally an interesting presence in a film.

On the level of mystery there are a few surprises & twists to keep any of it from being too obvious. The final twist of identity will for most be unexpected but even for those who see it comng & aren't surprised, it has an emotional effectiveness. And the attempt to make the condition of synesthesia visual on the screen is quite poetic, & too bad there couldn't've been more of that.

The film's would-be hipness of design & costume & performance style will probably look rediculously dated outside its decade, but is fairly dazzling for now. The film delivers precisely what modern J thrillers are expected to deliver, not more, not less.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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