Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai: How it Illustrates the Problems with Flashbacks


I’m not entirely sure what other people’s opinions on flashbacks in movies are (feel free to offer your opinion!). I’m not exactly a big fan of this story telling device.

While watching Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai I felt this was the perfect movie to illustrate the problems with flashbacks that I have. The crux of the issue is that flashbacks tend to deflate any narrative tension or surprise for the audience.

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Watch This Movie: Detention (2011)

Part of the fun of being a (fledgling) critic is getting to be a sort of cultural ambassador to get the word out about movies that may have flown under people’s radar.

Have you ever seen a movie that gives you a high after watching it? You feel like you’re floating on air. Your brain has reorganized itself into something…. different. Something new.

I’m not claiming everyone watching Joseph Kahn’s Detention will have the same feeling. In fact, I can see how this movie is/can be super polarizing. I’m just saying I got that high feeling I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass on my praise.

This movie can be explained in two ways:

One, it belongs in the blossoming genre of ADHD cinema. Its fellow movies are Crank, Crank: High Voltage, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Shoot ‘Em Up, among others. Its closest movie relative is Scott Pilgrim, except with Detention, you have to sub out romantic comedy for teen slasher movie. But it’s so, so much more than that. The movie is a commentary on the divide between the Millennial Generation and the as-of-yet unnamed Generation Z.

Two, it is the type of movie you have to recommend with the caveat to not read reviews of the movie, watch trailers, or gain any outside knowledge of the movie. It’s one of those movies that is truly surprising. Just when you think the movie has settled into its groove, it shakes up the gimmick and shifts over to something else. Detention screws around with genre, tropes, editing, cliches, and pop culture references, but it does it sincerely and earnestly. It’s the type of movie that dares you to keep up with the action. If your brainwaves sync up with Joseph Kahn’s, you’ll be entertained through every second of the 90 minute run time.

Joseph Kahn raised the money for this movie himself. There was no studio interference. This is the type of movie that should be supported. The creatives who made the movie had a direct line to the audience’s ears and eyeballs. There was no forced romantic subplot, no obnoxious tie-in ads, no bland, safe leading actor. None of that. This is pure artistic intent put into movie form.

If you have a predisposition to like ADHD movies like the ones listed above, there’s a good chance you’ll like Detention. If you don’t like ADHD movies, I still implore you to see it. You never know if you’ll like it or not. If nothing else, this movie deserves to be talked about — positively or negatively.