Caught in the reflection of a looming global conflict, the carefree souls that fill out Nobuhiko Obayashi’s unsurprisingly absurd and surreal latest waste away their last few months of innocence while the world and its war threaten to encroach on their idyllic
Filmed in sterile monochrome, with an almost clinical restraint, The Forest of the Lost Souls strives to mask its chosen forest with an ethereal cloak that would hope to convince the viewer something abstruse was lurking behind its utterly mundane locale.
What is so interesting about Dukun's tackling of witchcraft as a horror subject is that the tension does not come from whether or not it is real, but from what the sadistic soul who practices it will do with her unregistered power.
Attempting to highlight the idea that rumors have real-world consequences for the unlucky ones they concern, The Hungry Lion is a meditation on the effects of schoolyard buzz on one of its victims in a monopolizing, objective manner, which dryly makes its opinions heard through blank, repetitive sermonizing about the ills of the young people.
The assembled teenage tragedies that populate River's Edge aren't suffering in their nihilistic angst to provide a lesson, however, so much as they are there to exist and envelop you into their dead-end state of mind, living as they do in presumably hazardous proximity to an industrial district that is polluting the rivers that run behind the school from which they frequently skip.
There exists good intentions behind Harada's want to focus on the plight of Edo women and the disproportionate favoritism of the institution of marriage at the time, but lacking the follow-through and giving into broad populist appeals to entertainment makes these intents inherently shallow.
When it is knee-deep in prowling the ins and outs of the porn industry, the film shines as provocatively as Boogie Nights, but peering past this fun surface confronts you with little to no depth for the avatar doing the prowling.
Like most No Wave films, it is not necessarily what is on screen that will make you invested but the all-too-clear production details lingering just beneath the poor dramatizations that elevate the film to something more than its means.
Sadly Pressing On isn't so much interested in the technology's history or mechanics as much as the people who have propped up the letterpress community as this all-important subculture, nor does it translate as well as it thinks it does.