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I actually did like _The Mystery of Rampo_ a little bit.  It had an
interesting take on the notion of censorship and the irrepressibility of
art (to the point where the artwork and the imagined are "living" entities
that transgress the "reality" of the film), and a score that was probably
my favorite of that year.  That having been said, the picture is a bit
silly and self-indulgent (it's the Okuyama version that I saw), but all in
all I was pleased.
 
_Rampo_ does pale heavily, however, in comparison to _Maborosi_, Harokazu
Kore-eda's meditation on loss and grief, life and death.  It's exquisitely
shot, and its use of space and lighting is remarkable.  I think it's my
favorite film of the year.
 
Other good stuff includes "Beat" Takeshi Kitano's films (I'm particularly
fond of _Boiling Point_ and _A Scene at the Sea_; his latest, _Kids
Return_, is excellent), Suzuki Seijun's pictures (well, these aren't
exactly new), and the works of Sogo Ishii, like _Crazy Thunder Road_ and
_Angel Dust_.
 
In keeping with the Halloween spirit, Japanese horror movies are among the
best out there, and a few are, I dare say, masterpieces:  _Portrait of
Hell_, _Onibaba_, _The Last Frankenstein_, and _Hideki: Evil Dead Trap II_
are all worth checking out.
 
                                 Curtis Tsui
                  "Ah, rum!  Darkest of the dark liquors!"
                              [log in to unmask]
                        http://pages.nyu.edu/~ct208/
 
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