Friday, August 04, 2006


1997, Japan, directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi

Like many J-horror movies, Cure is concerned as much with atmosphere as it is with conventional narrative logic. Although it has an obvious affinity with the American film Seven, it lacks that film's ruthlessly unspooling plotline, preferring to concentrate on shadings of mood and background. The who and the how of the film's crimes are revealed early on, with director Kurosawa focusing instead on the far more unsettling 'why?' after a wave of inexplicable murders hits an unnamed Japanese city (the Seven comparison is heightened with the use of an anonymous but grimly run-down location: the decrepit buildings, cold weather and trash-covered beaches are the antithesis of the usual cinematic images of Japan). The agent of the killings comes to see like a kind of urban terrorist, arming new weapons in the most insidious and inexplicable of fashions, such that everyone is suddenly a suspect. Although Cure shares a few too many traits with other J-horror films to be truly original - the pacing and atmosphere are similar to films like Ringu, while there's even a video at the center of the mystery - the chilly camerawork and unsettling use of industrial sounds lift the film well above the standard genre confines, while Kurosawa displays a subversive sense of humor at times, perhaps most notably in his perverse choices of music at certain key moments.

1 comment:

Matt Riviera said...

Kurosawa Kiyoshi is one of my favourite directors. Incredibly prolific and versatile, his films are complex and can be read on many different levels. I totally agree that Cure is well above the standard genre confines.

You say that "Cure shares a few too many traits with other J-horror films to be truly original", but don't forget that it precedes films such as Ringu (1998) and Ju-On (2000).

For a transcendental, mind-bending experience, see his wonderful Charisma (Karisuma, 1999)!


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