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Director:  Takashi Miike
Year Released:  2001
Rating:  4.0

A 'theory movie,' if you will, where no two cineastes can come up with a valid explanation - or come to the same conclusion - but will, no doubt, mentally dissect it, trying to make it fit together. If that makes it sound bad, you've got it all wrong - this is, almost unquestionably, a masterpiece of cinema, not simply because it isn't easy to pin down, or even sit through, but because it successfully welds so many different elements together - from extreme subtlety to extreme graphic torture - into, well, a statement about the current state of the romantic spirit (I'm serious). The now famous last thirty minutes work in context, and the turn Miike takes is acceptable, considering the rationale provided. My interpretation: it is a portrayal of latent psychosexual perversion/confusion in males (the 'female' in the lead male's one 'dream sequence' changes from a little girl to a teenage girl to a grown woman randomly - reminds me of the story about panties being sold in vending machines) and about the mental torture/guilt imposed on oneself as a result lying to someone (in this case, to seek only pleasure and youth). Stunning, austere and moralistic - it is a landmark.

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