Want to Discuss 2 Japanese Movies (Rampo & Angel Dust)?

I am a big fan of Asian cinema and am working my way through films at a pretty good pace. Two of my recent favorites are the Japanese films The Mystery of Rampo and Angel Dust.

Has anyone seen these and would like to talk about them? Please be aware that SPOILERS may follow, especially if I get to talking about ‘Angel Dust.’ If you have not seen these movies, you would be best to skip this thread and go rent them!

I love it when a director shows me something new–reaches me in a novel way. Both of these films fit the bill. Very clever filmaking!

Okay, my take on ‘Rampo.’ Beautiful movie! In reading a couple of reviews before watching it, I was led to believe that it would would be at best an exercise in trying to follow stream-of-consciousness, overly pretentious filmaking; or at worst, plotless incoherency.

I did not find that to be the case at all. Of course, it is a rather unconventional film, but I never got “lost.” After the movie ended, I feel I understood “wha’ happened” and could even appreciate what I think the director was trying to show me.

I watched the movie again last night (3 times in 2 weeks), not because it is so “good” but because it is beautiful and captivating (I agree with one reviewer who said “just about every scene in the film could be framed and sold as an art poster”). I especially like the musical score (Czech Philharmonic Orchestra), and Michiko Hada may well be the most beautiful screen presence I’ve ever seen.

I love noticing subtle points in a film. I’ll include a couple here that intrigued me. Maybe someone else can illuminate others that I may have missed or not given the proper appreciation.

  1. The ambiguity of Shizuko’s (as the Marquessa) reaction to the stag film images being shown to her. At first, we assume she would be repulsed (or even bored, since this seems to be the only way her husband can feel intimate), but I’m not so sure. The final reaction shot can be interprested as one of pleasure–especially given the way many Japanese women (in film, at least) are shown to respond to sexuality with what looks to Western eyes to be pain or displeasure.

  2. When Rampo was “breaking into” his fictional world, he was being driven by a strange taxi-chauffeur. Just before breaking through, it looked like the face of the chauffeur changed very quickly and subtly–almost as if the director superimposed an underlit devil face.

Okay, I’ve written a lot and need to get back to work for a while. I’ll hold off on ‘Angel Dust’ until I see if there is any interest in this thread. I’ve actually got several questions on that one, as there are things I do not understand about the climax and denouement of that film. But, probably not many have seen these movies and I don’t want to go all into it just to see my post sink off the page.

But I will say the sound editor for ‘Angel Dust’ has got to be a genius. ("Oh great…divemaster’s going off on the sound editing, that’s like telling me the sister has a “great personality”). No, no, really. It’s very cool!

You had to pick THIS week to mention movies. :wink: Normally I’d just go rent them and discuss tomorrow, but Japanese class started this week, and i have to finagle language lab trips in, plus my friends from Illinois show up saturday, and i’m getting over a cold. If you can wait a week or so i can get them then…

It’s been a while since I saw Rampo.
I distinctly remember the chauffer’s face changing as you mentioned.
I just want to say that the movie got me to read some Edogawa Rampo stories (translated)- he was an amazing writer, somewhat nonsensical stories, but very memorable images. A few of his stories are really just sketches- somebody does something horrible, the end.

Never watched these two, but I see the cases every time I’m at the video shop. On your recommendation, I’ll pick them up next time I’m there. Thanks for the tip.