Sean P. Malloy | Los Angeles, CA | 07/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kiyoshi Kurosawa has a definite style. Something tells me he's sort of a love or hate type of director. One of my favorite things about his style is that he knows what parts of the typical stories and movies are considered "typical" and expected, and usually jetisons them straight out of the film. Sometimes it makes his movies hard to completely follow or "get". Cure is an example. There is a lot of stuff to "get" in that movie, and i've seen it several times and am still catching new riffs every time.
I just saw Charisma the first time recently, and it's really pretty small in scope on the surface, at least until the final shot. A 9 year old that watches this movie would be bored to death. Or they might be interested in the odd characters and the odd stuff that goes on in the movie. But, a person familiar with film, knowing that most of the movie carries metaphorical meanings, and that there are several layers to digest, will probably enjoy this movie a lot more. I'm sure that after a few more viewings, i'll still be debating with myself whether or not i am really sure of my interpretation of it.
Anyway, the movie is good. It's entertaining in an offbeat way. There are points when it is hard to catch all that's going on, partly because a lot of the lighting is dark, and because some of the shots show characters from far away, and it's hard to tell who's getting hit on the head with a giant mallet over a tree stump. There are characters that just show up with absolutely no introduction (i guess that sometimes character introductions are pretty cliche, so i guess that's why they're jetisoned here). Some of the movie is edited into choppy hard-to-understand segments. The effect is that you don't know what you are really watching until a minute later. I think that's the desired effect. To make it bewildering and dream-like.
Koji Yakusho is awesome, too.
I recommend this movie, as long as you know what you're getting into."
A Metaphorical Film: Not For Everyone!
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 12/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Charisma" is not for everyone. If anything it does tend to be difficult to understand at times, however, this is typical of Kiyosihi Kurosawa's films. [No relation to the cinematic master 'Akira Kurosawa'] As for myself, I really enjoyed the film. However, others may find the film drags a bit and may be hard to follow: But it is still an interesting film nonetheless, and I would recommend that you at least rent the DVD before purchasing the film. Moreover, the film may require repeated viewings.
The film stars one of my favorite Japanese actors (Koji Yakusho). There is something about his personality on the screen that I really like. It doesn't seem as if he is acting; but like a hidden camera is following his every move. [At least to me anyway]. The film begins with Goro Yabuike (Koji Yakusho) as a disgraced Tokyo Detective leaving everything behind in his life and going to a remote forest. It is here that Goro encounters a mystical tree. There is something about the tree that mystifies Goro. What is it about the tree? A botantist, and others believe the tree is the cause for a creeping disease spreading throughout the forest: Apparently, all of the surrounding vegatation in the forest is diseased, and the streams are polluted. Everything it seems points to the tree.
Goro becomes fascinated with the tree, and to him, its mysticism. There is an eccentric person who takes care of the tree in the forest, and will not allow anyone to cut this tree down. Why? As the rangers continually persist in trying to have the tree removed, the tree's caretaker is joined by Goro in resisting their attempts. The tree is named Charisma, and whether or not the tree should be cut down is one of the central themes of the story. But it is also the story of Goro, and his attempt to restore the natural balance of not just the forest, but his own life as well. The film is not for everyone, however, I was intrigued with the film. And as usual, (Koji Yakusho) gives a stellar performance. Recommended with caution."
A movie about a tree
Jason Pratt | Chicago, IL | 11/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charisma is an odd film with an amazing actor and director leading it. Many people will probably see this film wanting another "Cure," one of the first J-horror movies of the new J-horror wave of the late 90s. But, this is not "Cure" it's an environmentalism film that tries to remove the characters stories to focus on the issues of saving and taking life.
The story goes, there's a tree, one man wants to protect the tree, and only it. One man wants to steal the tree to sell it for lots of money. And one woman wants to destroy the tree. And then there's the main character played by Kôji Yakusho, he just wants to help everyone. Oh, and the tree can only live if it's taking the life of the other trees around it. And that's the film and everything that happens depends on these simple choices each character makes towards this one tree. This leads to one odd yet funny film filled with quite awkward scenes between characters and a tree.
The script of this film was first written 10 years before it was made and truly reflecting Kiyoshi Kurosawa style. "Cure" (made 10 years after he wrote Charisma) is a very good horror movie, was made like all Asian horror movies for money. While, Charisma was written by the director for a purpose, to explore the issues of environmentalism of the 21st century. How do human live without clearing the earth of trees for homes, while still having enough resources to go on living.
This film should not be seen as a horror movie, but as a film similar in style to "Woman in the Dunes" or a book by Kafka. But, I would recommend renting this film before buying it. I feel like most people would find this movie boring and confusing. Yet, if you find yourself drawn into the film it can also be a truly enjoyable experience. I personally find this film to be hilarious and mostly watch it as a dry humor comedy when I'm sitting around the house."