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Dvd

A Japanese horror drama by Sion Sono.

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Sequel To "Suicide Club" is Too Horrific To be Drama and Too Melodramatic To Be Horror

  • Sep 6, 2009
Rating:
+3

 
Sion Sono is a poetic director; his works often mystify, puzzle and bewilder his audiences. One thing no one can deny about this director is that his films are engaging with their uninhibited and visceral themes whether you like them or not. NORIKO’S DINNER TABLE is the long awaited sequel/prequel to Suicide Club (aka. Suicide Circle). I know, most folks are probably dreading a sequel to the cult hit, but Sion Sono delivers, well, not exactly in the way you may expect. “Noriko’s Dinner Table“ is more a companion film to the first film than a solid sequel. Too visceral to be a melodrama, and at the same time too mild to be horror; just what is Sono’s intentions with this film. Maybe to deepen its underlying enigma?
 
A 17-yr. old teenager named Noriko Shimabara (Kazue Fikiishi) leaves her tiny provincial town and moves to Tokyo to find an internet cult group called Haikyo.com There she meets up with the site’s webmaster; a young pretty woman named Kumiko (Tsugumi) and loses herself in the unusual ways this cult group practices, which includes a very unique approach to prostitution and mass suicide. As Noriko grows closer to her new friends, her sister Yuka (Yuriko Yoshitaka) decides to follow her suit. Now, both sisters must decide if abandoning their old life is worth dying for…






 
Now, to cut to the chase; is “Noriko’s Dinner Table” a better film than “Suicide Club”? Yes and no. Yes, The film is structured in a way as a melodrama would, slowly uncovering its mystery. The film is slow-paced and quite frankly the film really takes its time that draws on its marginalized-restrictive world. Its sense of purpose may equally alienate some viewers as with its predecessor. The events of the film does bring the idea of an organization on a very personal level and it puzzles more than it entertains. However, it is also inferior on some levels; the film looks very constrained by a limited budget and looks a bit too simple when compared to Sono’s other film “Strange Circus” when it comes to cinematography. The characters are indeed intriguing but it is very difficult to form an attachment to them. They are decently developed but for some reason, their puzzling purpose just didn’t sell the idea to me, except maybe for the father. His goal is pretty straight-forward as they come, he wants to find his daughters. It also does open a plot hole unfortunately, and Noriko's brainwashed state by the 'cult' lacks a some credibility that it may be a little difficult to buy into.
 
The film has a very different storyline than “Suicide Club”. It’s timeline is parallel but at the same time it also takes place after. The fragmented style of the proceedings are interesting with a narration of different points of view from its lead characters; Noriko, Yuka, Kumiko, and Tetsuzo. These narratives attempt to explain to a degree just what is occurring but also serves to annoy at times that the film loses a lot of its effect and visual “punch”. Sono never does specify as to where and when the narration is coming from. It may be safe to assume that they were part of the mass suicide that occurred in the first film, but this assumption never becomes validated. Seasoned watchers will not have any problems following its sequences and dialogue but those unadulterated to this style will no doubt be lost and (perhaps) be a little bored. In some ways this film may be a little more frustrating than Suicide Club, it doesn’t really offer any explanations or closure but instead reinforces the mystery behind Sion Sono’s first film and opens more questions.






 
The film is somewhat similar to Sono’s “Strange Circus”. Both films deal with the idea of identity and individualism. Not everything or everyone is as they first seem to be. This film shows us the personal idea of the cult, from Noriko’s goal of discovering her own identity and the denial of some truths. The film gives us the idea that all people are actors in a play, that more or less people either succeed or fail in their roles in life. Another theme it explores is the failure of reaching out to your love ones. “Lions and Sheeps” are expressed as the philosophy behind the cycle of life. Now don’t get the wrong idea that this film focuses more on philosophy and melodrama. The film does represent a lot of shocking ideas and proves quite disturbing to the core. Members of the brainwashed group would fulfill their roles at the cost of their very lives. Noriko was present as an observer when the 54 schoolgirls jumped off the railway as part of her “training”. Kumiko is the most intriguing character since she remains so cold but at the same time, so capable of expressing emotion in a very subtle way. It was a very interesting sight when she allowed an “actress” get stabbed to death for the satisfaction of one reliving a lost opportunity.
 
In its own way, “Noriko’s Dinner Table” has all the potential to be a better film than “Suicide Circle” but it just doesn‘t realize it. It’s more personal approach to certain themes about family, dependence on technology and its lasting effect on youngsters; the influences of our experiences that make us who we are and failure to communicate. Hidden from all its motifs and darkness is a very effective portrayal of intense human drama. You might say that this sequel (of sorts) is the heart and soul of Suicide Circle since its theme may well be the root of the obsession/influences of pop culture. It is a harder film to comprehend than its predecessor, and despite its faults, it will encourage the viewer to take another look-see.
 
Don’t expect the film to have the same style as “Suicide Club” or you will be very disappointed, this film is a totally different animal. "Noriko's Dinner Table" was never meant to give explanations to "Suicide Circle's" mystery; the film just enlarges the context of the “cult”, it widens its mythology and reinforces its enigma.
 
RECOMMENDED! Timidly…[3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
 
dvd scene Train scene Noriko

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September 09, 2009
Hey Woo, I had been curious about this after reading the reviews on ammioe but couldn't make up my mind whether or not to buy. Think I'll stick with Strange Circus or Suicide Club for now though. Great review as always!
September 10, 2009
Yeh, rent this one first. It is good but I can see a lot of folks not liking it due to the awesomeness of "Suicide Club". I am a Sion Sono completist that I even own "Exte Hair Extensions". "Strange Circus" may be his best film yet!
September 10, 2009
Yeah, I saw that "Exte Hair Extensions" advertised on ol' ammie & have been kinda curious about that one as well. The copy of Strange CIrcus you bought is uncut? And you purchased this one as well on ammie? I want to desperately obtain my own copy but some reviewers suggested this may be the sanitized cut. As you well know, I don't believe in sanitizing any work of art. It's sorta against my religion. LOL
September 11, 2009
Don't worry. The release by TLA is the uncut version. I bought the Japanese copy of "Strange Circus" because of the interviews and it did get release almost a year earlier. You should be ok with the U.S. release but make sure it says either NC-17 or UNRATED and skip the one with "Rated-R"....
September 11, 2009
That's cool bro. It loooks as if Strange Circus & Suicide Club are both very affordanle on ammie so I might go ahead & add them both to my collection. Eventually, I will prolly try "Exte Hair Extensions" & of course NORIKO'S DINNER TABLE. Thanks again!
 
September 08, 2009
I used to look at this one in the video stores and wonder whether it was worth the rental. (Yes, it was actually in Blockbuster) But something kept me from it. Good thing I guess.
September 10, 2009
Hi, Karen. This is a mixed bag. I do recommend "Suicide Club" over this one. I reviewed it too.
September 10, 2009
Yeah. I put that one on my list, but this sounds like it's not for me right now. Have you read Cenobite's new review of END OF THE LINE? He just posted it a few hours ago. I've made another convert.
September 10, 2009
I did read it. it was a good review and you got a shout out too! That was a good find for you! Dave is going to check it out also....
September 10, 2009
And you and Trashie got more than a mere nod of the head. That's the kind of find I live for. I owe it all to SLASHERS!
September 11, 2009
SLASHERS rule! Ceno is soo cool. Now, Dave may post his review in ammie because of the issues he's experiencing in this site...
September 11, 2009
He's having problems so he's going to ammie? What's wrong with this picture?
September 11, 2009
Yep, for some reason he can't post his reviews here anymore but he can in ammie. Computer problems...
September 11, 2009
Did he get shut out like we did or like Black Dogg? I'm not really following here.
September 12, 2009
He can log in and comment at times but he can't move his word docs to the little box. weird. Same thing when I experienced that I couldn't change my profile pic before.
September 12, 2009
Strange. I've had some odd problems from time to time too. Every so often I have to get a new password. Actually a set of numbers, it won't let me change it to an actual word. For the longest time I couldn't edit something once I had published it. That was a pisser.
September 12, 2009
I know what you mean. For Dave, it turned out to be Lunch's Achilles Heel. He could experiencing laptop issues and the site is still on a beta stage. Maybe he'll be back, but who knows. I should send a feedback to someone.
September 12, 2009
Good idea. Maybe I should mention my password problem too although it hasn't happened again since early August.
 
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Quick Tip by . January 03, 2010
Great potential; but fell so short of the awesomeness that is SUICIDE CLUB. A head-scratcher if you're not paying attention.
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