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[whitespace] Pacific Rim Film Festival : Dolls

Pacific Rim Film Festival

Critic's Pick:

Japan, 2002
Del Mar Theatre, Oct. 10, 7pm

The coolest man in Japanese show business, Takeshi Kitano offers up his most impressionistic and, in many ways, compelling film to date with Dolls.

Three concurrent tales of love, loss and obsession are framed by an introductory segment involving bunraku puppetry, the traditional Japanese method of storytelling whose formalist and tragicomic elements prefigure the stories to follow. Kitano's cohorts--longtime cinematographer Katsumi Yanagishima and fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto--are no less stylized and dramatic as they turn individual scenes and settings into works of art in their own right.

But ultimately, what makes Dolls such a memorable film is Kitano's mythic vision of the human condition in all its nobility and folly: A star-crossed couple who wander the countryside, an obsessive fan who disfigures himself to demonstrate his love, a Yakuza boss who haltingly reunites with his long abandoned lover--all of them make grave choices at crucial turning points, only to end up coming to their senses--or, in the fan's case, losing a sense--much too late. (The film's frighteningly beautiful final image will stay with viewers long after Dolls has become a classic.)

It is a testament to Kitano's art that a film that weaves such distinct cultural traditions into its fabric should end up touching on such universal emotions. (Bill Forman)

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From the October 5-12, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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