JAPAN 1995
CAST: Masahiro Motoki, Naoto Takenaka, Michiko Hada, Teruyiuhi Kagawa, Shiro Sano
WRITTEN BY: Edogawa Rampo
ONE WORD: The filming is awesome.

There are very few films that stand out, as not only amazing, they also look good, and just leave you hanging ... I suppose that making it a positive endeavor towards the end, helps, so that we can leave with a good feeling, and this story is just as gut wrenching as any I have ever seen in film.

Taken from a writer who was banned several years ago in Japan, Edogawa Rampo's novel, this film adaptation, makes the novel look like a cartoon, if you don't mind me saying so even though I have not read it ... it is just so colorful and full, that it is hard to accept that the novel can be even better.

The film starts with a cartoon, telling the story of the novel that was banned. In about ten minutes, the film has set the tone for a story that is unusual, that we are not quite clear as to where it is going to lead.

The cartoon tells a story of a man's death while playing with his children. The death is termed accidental, but everyone around where the woman lives, thinks that she is the one that did it, because she wants his shop, or money. The problem is that, the story that was banned, some months ago by the writer, was exactly like this one. And while the authorities have cut out the lifeblood of this writer's work, they have not stopped the flow of ideas, and the visions. The writer's agent immediately tells him that this true situation is the perfect reason why a sequel to the novel should be done.

And the writer sets about writing his alter ego, in the previous novel... they all come alive and tell him where to go. And while this happens, there are some absolutely fabulous moments in filming. While visiting the woman, towards the end, after her husband's death in the story, there are a series of astonishing visuals in particular, when the writer's alter ego walks in front of the mirrors, and the reflection we see is the writer ... an astonishing image ... the whole film is full of stuff like this.

Films about writers, tend to be rather odd, off the wall, and often very much off the mark. This film redefines the genre, in a style that is just so different, and yet so alive. The book is so alive in front of our eyes, a tremendous credit to the director who made this whole thing come alive so clearly.

And in between, there are several lyrical passages, where the writer indulges in his passion for this woman, or shall we say, his alter ego indulges in the passion... what's the difference?

One of the most colorful films I have seen in the past five years, with some excellent music to go along with it. There aren't many films done that stand out like this one. This story is so magical that it is almost totaly mystical.... yet so true.... so true.... the agonies a writer goes through, and how he feels, the impossibilities, and the visions... how to live with it. And to add to this, the film turns positive, where many do not. This may have been a response to the Japanese authorities banning of the first story. The second one, or this film, becomes the love story.

And what a story this is.

Editorial: This film brings about something that I wish that Japan had done more of, unless we are not getting to see those releases on the world stages. In general, like Kauffman's Steppenwolf, is using the cartoon medium to add to the story, and help it along. In Kauffman's film, it is the cartoon that takes us "inside" the character's mind, and with his analogies and sometimes opinions. This film does it similarly and does it beautifully sometimes mixing the two effortlessly and with such aplomb.






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