8 April 2004 | goblinhairedguy
Thoughtful hardboiled triumph
Film devotees have long realized that the "new wave" art cinema of Japan in the 60's was as innovative and profound as the revolutionary American and European product of the era. What is now becoming clear to fans in the West inured to Godzilla and Starman is that the little-seen Japanese genre pictures of the time were in many cases just as startling and artistic. "Pale Flower" is a case in point. It has the breathtaking luminous-white on inky-black lighting, the fragmented framing, and massive potential energy threatening to explode from the edges of the screen that so characterize the contemporaneous films of Seijun Suzuki (of "Branded to Kill" fame). But instead of that director's post-modern excesses, this film takes a somber, meditative tack, not unlike Beat Takeshi's recent "Sonatine", presenting a carefully-wrought, moody character study amid the expected thrills. The musical score, when it surfaces, is suitably avant-garde, and the frame is filled with rich detail and well-defined characters, like the crime boss obsessed with his dental health. A must-see for the adventurous film buff.