Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Midnight Meat Train (2008; Ryuhei Kitamura)

Ryuhei Kitamura is a director many people have been keeping their eyes on. His eye with the camera is quite remarkable and most people would have trouble denying that (his action cutting is another story). When his popularity had grown so much that he was asked to direct an American horror film, I will admit I was very intrigued. It also brought to mind the time when he was asked to direct another film outside of his expertise, Godzilla. While never witnessing this film, the word on the street is that even his most dedicated fans had to turn away in disgust.

A small time photographer finally gets his shot at a larger scale show. The only problem is that the head of the show says his work is a little too shallow and he needs to dig just a little deeper into the city's underbelly to achieve real masterpieces. He tumbles upon a mysterious man who only boards the trains at night and he decides to try and figure out the reason why.

It turns out that Kitamura actually does have more than just one (action) trick up his sleeve. While his style is still very much present in the film via slow motion and heavily stylized kill scenes, the film definately has the feel of something very new to him.

First off, while his characters are not poorly constructed or poorly acted, they still feel a bit... bland. They just come off as any other American couple in any other American film (The Grudge's character come to mind as another example of this). While stereotypes can be helpful in films, this is not one of them.

I want to touch back for a minute upon the idea of Kitamura's camera. Word on the street is that some people feel that this film is a bit over directed. Meaning, he went way too far out of his way to try and make this film look so good it just looks like shit. I disagree. If you understand Kitamura's background, his touches feel very much normal for him and are not that far of a stretch with the material used in this specific film.

Now to speed up the rest of this so I have time to rest and try and get healthy. The colors used fit wonderfully with the rest of the film. The blue tones used in the subway car fit perfectly (and are also quite natural). The soundtrack isn't very memorable, but is at least competent. What is the point I am trying to get at? This film is a combination of the expertise of a very competent director and the average-ness of someone who obviously doesn't work in this genre mixture very often.

Score: 4/5

Notes: Ted Raimi, Conspiricies, and Mushroom? Chest

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