Combustible Celluloid
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With: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi, Chieko Matsubara, Ky�ko Fukada, Tsutomu Takeshige
Written by: Takeshi Kitano
Directed by: Takeshi Kitano
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 113
Date: 09/05/2002

Dolls (2002)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Puppet Mastery

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Takeshi Kitano is mostly known for his ultra-violent gangster films with their long, slow stretches, usually depicting people waiting for things, and still silences. Much lesser-known are his lovely little dramas, in which the star does not appear. The first two of these were A Scene at the Sea (1991) and Kids Return (1996), and now comes Dolls (2002), which is every bit as good as anything Kitano has ever done. Framed by images of Japanese Bunraku puppets, the story splits into three parts. In the first, Matsumoto (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is engaged to marry Sawako (Miho Kanno), but breaks it off at the last second. Sawako attempts suicide and goes insane, retreating to a near catatonic state. Matsumoto rescues her from the hospital and binds himself to her by a length of red rope tied at their waists. They wander the beautiful Japanese landscapes through all the seasons. In the second story, an aging yakuza leader Hiro (Tatsuya Mihashi) remembers his youth and the girl he once knew (Chieko Matsubara), who would wait for him on a park bench every day with lunch. Finally, a cute Japanese pop star Haruna (Kyoko Fukada), who sings an impossibly catchy song, suffers a disfiguring accident and finally agrees to see one of her fans, Nukui (Tsutomu Takeshige). The stories have a fateful, lonely feel, like one of Wong Kar-wai's missed connections. Yet their tragic timelessness, and the lovely, aching pace at which they are told, bring them to a level of extraordinary beauty.

DVD Details: Palm Pictures' new DVD effectively captures the film's gorgeous colors for home viewing. It comes with the film's theatrical trailer, previews and weblinks.

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