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Thursday, July 31, 2008

VENGEANCE IS MINE (1979)

Shohei Imamura’s sensual and horrendous study of a conman/serial killer, played in steely fashion by Ken Ogata, is a cool-eyed study of a psychotic madman. Using a fictionalized account of real events as source material, the pic is structured in a series of semi-sequential flashbacks. While too many dysfunctional family issues are used to ‘explain’ Ogata’s portrait of a nihilistic killing machine, the film is highly effective within these dated psychological limitations. Imamura handles a variety of techniques with nary a stylistic bump and keeps us both fascinated and appalled without milking the natural urge to identify with any lead character. It's at quite a remove from even the toughest Hollywood film covering similar terrain. Certainly not for all tastes, but not easy to shake off.

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