Combustible Celluloid
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With: Koji Yakusho, Jun Fubuki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kitarou, Ittoku Kishibe
Written by: Tetsuya Onishi, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 97
Date: 17/05/2005

Séance (2000)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Reluctant Kidnappers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Easily the high point of the 2001 Dark Wave festival was Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Séance. Meanwhile, Kurosawa's 1997 film Cure was recently released here, introducing the Japanese genre director to a new legion of American fans. Séance is more recent, made only last year, and concerns a sound effects artist (Kurosawa's frequent leading man Koji Yakusho) and his wife (Jun Fubuki), a psychic who often works with the cops. While out in the woods recording noises, a kidnapped girl escapes and crawls into Koji's trunk to hide. Later he discovers her there and realizes that he'll be blamed for the kidnapping if he turns her in. So husband and wife devise a scheme to let the cops "find" her, but of course everything goes terribly wrong.

Working again and again with the same actors, Kurosawa gets a great many nuances from very subtle performances. Yakusho, with his frizzy hair and warm, everyman face, immediately draws us in, while Fubuki lends a mystical air to her character.

Anyone who saw Cure knows that Kurosawa works slowly and meticulously, forgoing any artificial suspense and focusing on long, slowly-built scenes, often taking place within a single shot. It's a mesmerizing, genuinely hair-raising film, and without a doubt the equal of Cure.

DVD Details: Home Vision has released this terrific, spooky film on a new DVD (2005), which includes an interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and trailers for Séance, Charisma and Cure. It's mastered in 1.33:1, which, given the stellar reputation of this company and their attention to Japanese film, is probably correct.

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