a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Ikiteru mono wa inai no ka / 生きてるものはいないのか

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Adapting Shiro Maeda’s absurdist play No One Alive Here?, Gakuryu Ishii (formerly Sogo Ishii of The Crazy Family fame) manages to fill the screen with vaguely directed, poorly shot set pieces that try to add up to some sort of end times vision. It’s a far cry from the like of Von Trier’s Melancholia or Soderbergh’s Contagion. In Iketeru mono wa inai no ka a mysterious illness suddenly grabs all the cast except one, quickly dispatching them with overacted death throes. As the film progresses, corridors and sidewalks, parks and restaurants become littered with dead bodies that the last survivor (Shota Sometani) navigates to a finale of apocalyptic visions (birds and planes falling from the sky) – and that’s it.  Not even quite a whimper. Neither realistic nor cogently theatrically stylized, Iketeru mono wa inai no ka plods along leaving the viewer with hopes that director Ishii will kill off each character quickly (at nearly 2 hours long, he doesn’t) and the damn thing will be over. Ishii’s inauspicious return makes me long for the old Sogo.

Originally published in EL Magazine, February, 2011.

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