Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rampo Noir

I saw Rampo Noir. I find myself with little to say about it, but I've neglected a few too many of my recent viewings, so I'll give a couple of brief thoughts.

It's based on the work of Edogawa Rampo. Some of his work has recently been translated and collected as Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The movie is a series of four short films. The first, "Mars Canal", is very short. It is certainly striking, even if it doesn't work as well as it could, sacrificing mood for overly self-conscious cinematic techniques. The second story, "Mirror Hell", is moderately compelling. I couldn't get a feel for how good the story may be, but the movie doesn't quite work.

The third movie, "Caterpillar", is easily the strongest. I'm not sure it couldn't have been made better as film. My guess at this point is that this is easily the best of the stories, as the moviemaking here seems to be trying a little hard, but it still is absolutely riveting and thought-provoking. This is the one that's making me think seriously of getting the book mentioned above.

The final movie, "Crawling Bugs", may be the opposite. I suspect it may be the strongest moviemaking of the group, but it was trite and uninvolving. The concept here may have have been fresh in 1929, when it seems the original story was written. At this point it plays rather pointless and dull, though.

Overall, an interesting attempt, some nice imagery and one truly brilliant story. Definitely worth checking out.

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