Selected on: July 14, 2003
When it comes to the "style over substance" school of Asian filmmakers, Japan has always excelled over its neighbors. Dating back to the Nikkatsu and Shochiku films of Suzuki Seijun and Kinji Fukasaku, respectively (or, one could argue, back to Inoshiro Honda or even earlier), the rich culture of Japan has fostered (or festered?) some of the most remarkable visual spectacles ever committed to celluloid.
But when set against the work of his flashy contemporaries, such as Takashi Miike and Sogo Ishii, there appears to be something deeper happening in the films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa. While working in many of the same genres as his predecessors, Kurosawa (no relation
to the better-known Akira) infuses a
spiritual aspect to the proceedings (much like Mamoru Oshii's animated films, and equally unique).
For instance, the mysterious happenings in Cure [Rent!]. We, along with
detective Kenichi Takabe (portrayed with typical subtlety by Koji Yakusho), learn how the curious deaths occur but never why, exactly. What begins as a peculiar situation worthy of the X-Files shifts into far stranger territory, so fantastic that simple explanation will not help. Similarly, his Charisma [Rent!], made two years later, infuses a tree in the middle of nowhere with apocalyptic qualities. Cleverly, Kurosawa is able to take this simple premise and explore both the seriousness and absurdity of strongly held beliefs (and the repercussions for those that doubt them). Expertly handling the demands of working quickly and expediently, Kurosawa supposedly made both Serpent's Path [Rent!] and Eyes of the Spider [Rent!] over a two-week period in 1988. While one is the sequel of the other - telling the tale of a father's revenge for his murdered daughter - the actual order of the films is never made clear; still, both share numerous overlaps.
While not as prolific as Miike, the majority of Kurosawa's work sadly remains unseen in the US (indeed, his critically acclaimed Pulse/Kairo remains unscreened theatrically in this country). Fortunately, you have GreenCine on your side, and we've tracked down the other titles for your viewing pleasure. -- Jonathan Marlow
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