Sunday, November 2, 2014

Killer of Dreams

Labyrinth of Dreams (1997) - Ishii
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I am a big fan of Sogo Ishii's serial killer mood piece Angel Dust. I've always regarded Ishii as a standout amongst 90s Japanese pop auteurs not only for his visual elegance but for the innovative use of sound. And I've been long to see Labyrinth of Dreams. Soft black & white photography reminiscent of old newspaper clippings, Ishii's period piece, the film is a seductive, hypnotic experience.

There is a rumor going around bus conductors that there is a serial killer who seduces women and discard them when he gets bored with them. One such victim is recently departed Tsuyako who's been suspecting her fiancé bus driver Niitaka (Tadanobu Asano) to be that killer. Tsuyako's been telling all her thoughts in her letter to her best friend, another young bus conductor Tomiko (Rena Komine). Niitaka reemerges at Tomiko's bus company as a newly hired driver. With his good looks and mild manner, all the girls are swooned naturally. At first, Tomiko's determined to capture him and avenge her friend's death, but can't help falling for mysterious Niitaka.

Its Hitchcockian theme of suspicion and obsession and its moebius strip structure give way to lush, dreamy cinematography with sporadic, atmospheric score, Labyrinth is a perfect quiet mood piece on rainy saturday afternoon. I particularly love Ishii's used of pregnant silences and delicate shallow depth photography. Really gorgeous.

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