November 08, 2006


For readers in the UK, a couple of films on Channel 4.

Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin (2004) is on Monday night, 13th November at 2.05 am.

Starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt (Third Rock form the Sun, Brick), Brady Corbet (Thirteen, 24) and Michelle Trachtenburg (Eurotrip, Dawn in Buffy The Vampire Slayer), the young leads seem determined to shake off their frothy teen/TV roots by tackling this controversial story.

Thematically it's something like American Beauty mixed with Happiness. This is not for the easily offended, the director has adapted the novel that tackled elements like paedophilia and gay hustling. Araki has always made light of such marginal themes in his previous movies, like Nowhere, Totally F***ed Up. Here he knuckles down to a tough story but with a gentle approach. The film sways between nightmare and a dream state. It's not without humour, mainly provided by the alien abduction subplot, but it's not an easy watch either.

Challenging and mesmerising, this movie blew me away. It helps that Robin Guthrie from The Cocteau Twins performed the ethereal soundtrack - they are one of my favourite bands.

Battle Royale II - Requiem (2003) is on Channel 4 on Thursday night, 16th November at 11.15 pm.

The jaw-dropping Battle Royale (2000) was too hard to best. You may have passed on this big-budgeted sequel on DVD, but it's still worth catching on TV. The director of the original, veteran Kinji Fukasaku, passed away during it's production, leaving his son Kenta to complete it.

The sprawling sequel is more explicitly about the use of schoolchildren in wartime, a theme I completely missed in the original. There's a lot of gun battles and long slow deaths, but far less originality or memorable characters than the original. But, if you want to know what the survivors of the first film did next, you're going to have to watch. From the opening images, you know Kinji didn't want to pull any punches on his last film...

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