July 15, 2007

LAST QUARTER (2004) a supernatural Chiaki Kuriyama story

(2004, Japan, Kagen no Tsuki)

Lush-looking supernatural romance starring Chiaki Kuriyama

Region 3 Hong Kong NTSC DVD (Golden Culture Entertainment)

The cheap-looking cover, of this Hong Kong release DVD, made me think I was getting a predictable romantic drama. After all, I was only getting it to catch Chiaki Kuriyama.

But as soon as the film began, I was immediately rewarded with a rich, luscious opening sequence full of entrancing images, which turn out to be a mixture of dreams and premonition, in this supernatural romance.

The story was even more attractive as it was partly shot in London and includes a look at the Tokyo scene that pays homage to English style, albeit from forty years ago. The opening of the story has Chiaki seeing her boyfriend (Hiroki Narimiya) play at a 'Mod' revival club, ‘Quadromania’. He even dresses like a Mod and rides a scooter. Not sure about the riding hat though (they are really for horse-riding, not Lambrettas)…

After Chiaki discovers that he’s been cheating on her, she runs away to a strange old house, where she meets a handsome stranger. He’s cool, ultra-cool, with long hair, playing guitar, in leather trousers… This presumably is the epitome of modern Tokyo rock star chic, and the character is played by rock star Hyde from the band L'Arc en Ciel.

The corny-sounding plot, is intentionally pointing us towards the fairy stories of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. But then things take a distinctly Japanese turn when she decides to elope with him to London and has an unexpected accident.

She awakes to find herself trapped in his house, alone, but she cannot leave. What's going on? Why do the lights always dim as she leaves a room? Why does she look so pale?

The story is lushly photographed, with simple special fx, of the same sort of complexity of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think it’s all shot on video, but it looks more like a movie. The sets are simple and effective, some are so simple that they are almost symbolic, as opposed to convincing. But the dreamlike worlds portrayed are to do with ideas, rather than realism, and it all worked for me.

Not many surprises, but an enjoyable ghostly package of typical Japanese teenage romance. No sex, no kissing, just buckets of agonising longings and symbolic meaning. It’s certainly one of the better Japanese films Chiaki has starred in.

Loads more screen-grabs from the film, and Chiaki's other films, here at her shrine!

The HK DVD is letterboxed, (not anamorphic) and has good English subtitles. You can get it
here at PlayAsia, for instance.

UPDATE: Geneon also released this on DVD in the US.

1 comment:

  1. I have linked to your site on the Chiaki Kuriyama Shrine Forum. Thanks a lot for your great work here Mark!

    Webmaster for the Shrine,