Pulse (回路,Kairo) Review: Help Me Escape Loneliness

Our world is ancient. People born and people die since prehistoric time. But what happens when there’s no more space left in the afterworld for those who have passed away? What are they? Ghosts? Wandering souls? When that happens, they bleed into our realm. The ghosts walk among us. So never open The Forbidden Room or else you will experience death, the eternal loneliness.

Pulse directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, released in 2001 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S, is a philosophical horror film with a touch of science fiction all mixed into one. Quite frankly I was pleasantly surprised this showed up in my recommendation of films to watch on Amazon Prime Video. I have been searching for this film for a while and seen it several years ago but forgot the title. If it were a video game, I would play it in a heartbeat. In fact, some of the horror titles I enjoyed in the past were released around that time:

The film is not as straight forward so watching it with full attention and twice is recommended. It’s like reading a heavy novel. There’s a lot to digest and piece together. Each frame, each scene ties well together, painting a world that is on the brink of human extinction. The scariest thing about this film is the internet and the red tape. Some places are just meant to be sealed away.

Why do we connect to the internet? Why do we need to connect with others? Most normal people go about wanting few interactions with people as possible or don’t see a need to fill up the void inside of them. That’s why if humans are too far apart, they are drawn together but get too close, they die. What’s the point of getting close? As Harue Karasawa (character from the film) explains a grad student programming project:

Two dots get too close to each other, they die and if they are too far apart, they are drawn closer together.

That’s the world we live in.

Take a moment to think about this abstract idea. How many times have you been honest with a friend but only end up hurting them instead? What’s the point of friendship then?

For horror fans, I don’t need to tell you to watch it because you might have already seen it, especially if you fall into the millennial age group. Japanese horror was a sensation back then. I remember the The Ring terrified many in theater including myself and I became interested in Japanese horror ever since.

One thing I took out from this film is that if I ever need to feel the need to connect with anyone, it might be wise just to turn off the device and connect with real people. Don’t glorify loneliness. It’s eternal death. Humans are no different from ghosts if we are pacing back in form in our rooms, trapped in the internet world.

Three Scary Mom Films (Happy Mother’s Day Edition)

Yes, I am one day late. I missed the deadline, but the world hasn’t end yet, has it? Happy belated Mother’s day! Actually, last year the holiday was celebrated on May 10th so technically I am not really late, and I learned the holiday is celebrated on Sunday for religious reasons that is why Mother’s Day was on the 9th of this year. That’s a fun fact I never paid attention to until now.

I am back with my three list of recommendations. For those who are new to my blog, I like to make a list of recommendations on films, video games, or books. Because I enjoy horror genre, I purposely decided to go with the scary mom theme. I learned from the following films that sadly not everyone was fortunate enough to know what a good mom is. Hopefully, your relationship with your mother is in good terms.

So grab a bowl of popcorns and get ready! In no particular order from bad to worst mom. I make my three list:

A bowl of popcorns

#1 Mommie Dearest (1981)

Director: Frank Perry

Starring: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest

Why did I pick this one? Well the mother is a perfectionist to an extreme. You have to be if you are a top Hollywood star, but at the expense of motherhood. She is constantly unaware that she is not fit to be a mom and yet she insists of being a mom to a child. It’s really a sad story actually. She had a successful career but unsuccessful relationships with her love ones including herself. We all know she can’t remain on top forever. Youth and beauty eventually fade and soon she is no longer wanted. Like a product, Hollywood throws away the old for something new and fresh. It’s no surprise, for decades, the film industry has been largely dominated by men. So I sympathize with the protagonist and want to see her rise to the top even though I know she was clearly mad. Great career woman, but terrible mom. Seems like the film was arguing that you can’t be good at both.

Next up…

#2 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Director: Jeffrey Bloom

Starring: Kristy Swanson, Victoria Tennant, Louise Fletcher

I kept wondering in the beginning of the film why the children are so blond then it occurred to me that they are the making of incest. Out of disgust and shame, the strict religious grandma locked them up in the attic and punished the daughter who is the mother of the children for her past wicked deed. Not only did she seduced her uncle and had children with him, but she also seduced her own father for his inheritance. Like a cat, she kept seducing people to get what she wants. Bad mom indeed, and purely one dimensional. She is so dehumanized that the story becomes an unconvincing horror tale, but more like a sexual fetish. Don’t know what I am taking about? Then I encourage you to watch it.

Lastly…

#3 White Lies (2013)

Director: Dana Rotberg

Starring: Whirimako Black, Antonia Prebble, and Rachel House

I mentioned this film before on my blog but never elaborate into details about the plot. The mother in this film is the worst. Living a lie and living in shame due to inferior complex is teaching children to hate their heritage. Mothers should teach self-respect, compassion and confidence to their children. Skin and culture has nothing to do with superiority but why do people still believe otherwise? Bad parenting, I assume. What irked me about the mother is not only does she tries to alter one’s appearance but she tries to eliminate her mother tongue completely. Hence the title White Lies. But if you want to look at the film a bit more deeply–it is more than just eliminating one’s root. It brought up the question: is the western’s way always better? I chose this film because like many international films I’ve seen in the past, it creates a dialogue that’s worthy of discussion on top of the fact the mom is scary.

Yep, those are my 3 list of scary mom films. I guess it’s not the end of the world if you were raised by a bad mom. Most of the children in these films actually turned out fine. Well some might experience permanent phycological issues, but overcoming it–will make the individual a stronger person and thus an interesting story. No one glorifies weakness as a desired trait. Well I have not met one person who does but let me know if you have.

Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book

I love books, but I feel that it’s becoming more of a luxury pastime leisure. Hard to focus reading when your mind is constantly on the go–literally it’s hard reading when you feel restless which is why I never read a book while walking, although I have seen some do it and it always put a smile on my face when I see such a rare sight. Even taking the public transportation, I could never find myself relaxed enough to read. However, I have once read on the job, but work never seems to get done. So I completely ruled out that option. Lastly, you’re probably thinking how about before bedtime? By then I am too tired to read. So you see, I am in a bit of dilemma. Maybe if I live in a huge library such as the picture below, I’d read more. Reading is a solitary experience and I need a quiet, safe place to immerse myself in a book. The same can be said for story driven single-player games.

Did you enjoy how I bold my words in the second to last sentence of the paragraph above? I just want to make sure you got the most important stuff from this intro. 😀

Reading is a solitary experienceneed.. quiet, safe place to immerse in a book,” says Halsdoll (had to quote myself because I feel enlightened from my own writing).

masterpiece video game
Current game I’m playing: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

I won’t ramble on about games in this post. This is about Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book. I know based on the title I got it all backwards. It should be read book first and then watch the film because most films I like are based on a novel. And I must confess, I discovered most books through watching the film first. So that doesn’t make me a book snob even though I think the mind is the greatest theatre.

If you are new to this blog. I like to come up with three list of recommendations or three list of anything for this blog because most of us love making list, don’t we? I do. It declutters my brain space so I can think more clearly. Plus short, sweet post like this gives me a break from thinking too deeply and it’s more conversational (I hope I’m talking to a human and not a robot, but if you are robotic that’s okay).

So here are my list. Three list of films I want to read the book eventually:

1) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Story: Clive Barker

Hellraiser the movie
The Hellbound Heart: A Novel

I was a teenager when I first got exposed to this classic horror film. I believe it was during Halloween, the show aired on T.V. The thought of demons were terrifying to me that I remember having nightmares about it. When you start getting nightmares, you know the film is scary. It never occur to me back then that hell is like the puzzle pieces of the human psyche. But of course that is just my speculation. The book got me curious and puzzles are always fun to solve. I love a good puzzle. That’s why I need to read the book for more details to come with a stronger conclusion. Hopefully, I don’t dive too deep because hell is definitely not the place I want to be.

2) Audrey Rose (1977)

Director: Robert Wise

Story: Frank De Felitta

Audrey Rose film
Film
Book

This film is so intense that I did not finish it. It reminds me of the Exorcist and the famous Silent Hill (video game series),but of course this came before the video game and before I was born so going back in time to find good films is like going on a trip to discover ancient relics (that’s a compliment, not an insult for those who are self-conscious about age. Young doesn’t always mean better. I like a good aged wine. It’s wisdom that I am after, not eternal youth). One of these days, I will watch the film, but definitely not by myself and if I am curious enough–read the book. Reincarnation can be a very scary thing and for horror fans, we know that horror films don’t always need scary ghosts and special effects.

3) Charlolette’s Web (1973)

Directors: Charles A. Nichols, Iwao Takamoto

Story: E.B. White (book)

Charlotte's Web (2006)
Film
Charlolette's Web book
Book

I know it’s contradicting after stating how I am after wisdom and not eternal youth to switch from horror to children’s film. But eventually adults revert back to a child-like state of mind. I really enjoyed the narration in this film and found that it contains full of wisdom. I used to read the book as a child, but somehow, I think some of the concepts in the story are too deep for a child to grasp. Themes about animal rights, life and death are concepts that are a bit hard for a child to internalize. I didn’t like it as much until now. Favorite quote from the film: “How special are we just a moment?” It’s a powerful phrase to remind us to be humble. Charlotte may be just a spider, but she is also a very good friend and a writer who stretches her natural abilities to make something more out of her existence. Truly inspiring.

Yep, that’s my three list of books I eventually want to read. It’s not so bad going back in time as I am finding it hard each day to find something worthwhile to watch or read. Time has changed or it’s simply just that I am getting older and my taste in entertainment is becoming more refined. I need something with depth. I need something classically timeless.

P.S

I found a good time to read. It’s in the morning with a cup of coffee. That way I won’t get Zzz…from reading. I couldn’t be more happy and content.

Street Fighter II The Animated Movie (1994) Review: A Great Work Out for the Eyes

Do you like fighting games? I love fighting games even though I never did beat my brother in a match. It’s the only video game genre that will make me lose my temper. Let’s just say my brother enjoyed watching me get angry when I lose to him. Not so fun if you keep losing. However, I could sit for hours watching him play. It’s fun to watch. He still tries to encourage me to play it more often online. Unfortunately, I’m not the type who enjoy playing against a real life opponent. The fighting games community can be a bit aggressive for my liking.

This weekend I had a blast watching Street Fighter II The Animated Movie. Great fighting scenes mixed with ominous rock music made the viewing experience enjoyable. Even though the hero, Ryu is intended to be the highlight of this series (he stands for everything right and powerful), I actually am more intrigued with M. Bison. Why? His origin is mysterious and he has a crazy psychotic power. And I confess, there is a little bit of an evil side to me. Like M. Bison, I like to feel powerful! Who wouldn’t want to be the best of the best in terms of strength? I felt so macho watching this animation that it became comical to me. Ryu doing his rocking climbing and all. So intense.

All of the characters, Cammy, Chun-Li, Vega, Fei Long, Sagat, E. Honda, Guile just to name a few made their entrance in this animation. So it was fun to watch your favorite characters in action. Although, I must say the highlight of this animation was Chun-Li versus the flamboyant Boy, Vega. I can tell they put a lot energy into this fighting scene. I guess who wouldn’t want to see a beautiful woman kick some boy’s butt in her underwear? There’s no time to be shy and modest. Some guy just clawed her face. Go Chun- Li! Show that bad boy some manners!

I watched this on Amazon Prime Video. It’s currently free for streaming. And no, I am not advertising Amazon. The lockdown brought me to the site as I depend on it for groceries. It’s kind of like being distracted at the super market. Got to find something good to watch with my meal!

Well that’s it for now. Until next time, bye bye.

The Sword of Swords (1968) Review: The Awakening of A Reluctant Hero

The world of martials arts is nothing more than a world of politics. The one who has the most power has the most control over his fortune and the most freedom to live as he pleases (i.e. a king’s lifestyle). Doesn’t it sound enticing? But with great power comes with great responsibility. Those who seek power for personal gain is not fit to rule. In this tale, a meek hero is hesitant to get involved in the world of martial arts until his family and his country is on the line.

To give you folks a backstory of this legendary sword, I quote the introduction from the film for you to better understand the story:

During the Sung Dynasty, about 1000 B.C., a famed sword smith Meng Yao Chi took ten years to forge a sword from the best metal available. When China was invaded by neighboring Liao state, Meng presented his sword to General Meng Liang. With it, the General won battle after battle and the sword became a legend. After General Meng’s Death, the sword was lost until rediscovered in the Ming Dynasty. The prince of a nearby barbarian tribe coveted the sword and dispatched a trusted warrior to acquire it. This is the story of this mission.

Based on the quote, the sword sounds pretty epic, doesn’t it? I don’t think I would want the sword even if I was fit to rule the martial arts world. It’s too much stress and responsibility. So I can sympathize with the hero in this film who learned martial arts to hunt and nothing more. However, our destiny is not always decided by us. The hero, not only has the mental capability but also the physical strength to be the keeper of the legendary sword. After all, those who yield the sword has the power to control the land for good or evil. It sounds kind of like Lord of the Rings, Chinese version the more I think about it, but not as dark.

What surprised me about this story is how passive and meek the main character is. I have never seen a highly skilled martial artist who is unreasonably meek. His saint-like personality is his downfall. It is because of his reluctance to kill the main villain when he had the chance caused him a spiral of tragic events. As the audience, I can’t helped but be a little annoyed by his passiveness, but then again, there wouldn’t be a story if he weren’t a reluctant hero. He eventually learned from his mistake and become emotionally stronger towards the end, but at the expense of losing his parents, sister and his two eyes! It made me wonder whether the film was trying to tell ordinary men to step up and be more assertive. I think there are a lot of men out there like him–fully capable and strong to make a difference but choose not to meddle with politics until he is backed into a corner. On a positive note, what I like about this film is that the hero’s weakness becomes his strength. The hero always find a way to win in the end magically, which makes me feel happy. After all, I am always rooting for the good guy to win.

For my final thoughts, this film is decent but not great. I like The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) more which was played by the same main actor, Jimmy Wang Yu. One plus thing about this film is the cinematography and swords fight. It’s beautifully well done. So if you are a fan of martial arts films, it’s still worth watching.

Lying Eyes (1996) Review: It’s Always the Dumb Blonde who Gets Screwed

Air-head Amy is a high school cheerleader who seems to suffer from daddy issue. So when she met her 33-year old lawyer boyfriend through a car accident, she thought she found love (sorry Amy but you are just his new booty call). The dude is married to a foxy redhead and he has two children with her. He is such a player that it’s no surprise that his profession is law. He sure has no problem breaking rules.

I must confess, I have never met a dumb blonde in my entire life until I watched this film. Every thing about this film is theatrically hilarious, including the creepy lawyer. But I was thinking the whole time, give the blondes a break and stop making her a sex symbol, but I guess that can’t be help because she is just so drop dead gorgeous.

Well there’s one lesson to be learned in this film: don’t be so naïve when men give you a lot of gifts. Some men don’t give stuff for free. He is literally trying to buy you. That’s a message for young women. Watch out for the predator! He likes high school girls especially in cheerleader outfit!!!