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Saturday, July 24, 2010


This Japanese noir shows helmer Seijun Suzuki at his most extreme. Storyline & character are all but bypassed to focus on a persistently threatening mood; WideScreen compositions that touch abstraction; a combo platter of nihilism/fatalism; the smell of freshly boiled rice; . . . and an inconvenient butterfly. His studio was apoplectic, the film tanked and, after 42 pics, Nikkatsu Studio fired Suzuki. He didn’t make another film for a decade. It begins in a relatively normal manner as Nikkatsu regular Joe Shishido violently goes thru his paces as Hitman #3. But we enter ‘Existentialville’ when Joe blows a big job (oh, that butterfly!) and finds himself being hunted by Hitman #1. Suzuki throws a couple of nude femme fatales in the mix and spends too much time detailing a wary detente between the two assassins. But the detente between Suzuki & Nikkatsu Studio has obviously broken down, abstract kinetic cinema has just about taken over. And not all for the better. This remains essential viewing, but hardly the best place to start your personal Seijun Suzuki tour. Try YOUTH OF THE BEAST/’63 and then follow your own path into his addictive films.

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