Kiyoshi Kurosawa

I laughed at this review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's movie Creepy on Letterboxd:

I miss the old Kiyoshi. The can't-be-sold Kiyoshi. Back in the fold Kiyoshi. That was the bold Kiyoshi. Remember Cure Kiyoshi? That wasn't your Kiyoshi? 'Cause that was my Kiyoshi. Damn, that was fly, Kiyoshi! You came with Kairo, Kiyoshi. That shit was fire, Kiyoshi! Even Bright Future Kiyoshi, that ill repute Kiyoshi. I dug it all, Kiyoshi. So why'd you stall, Kiyoshi? And then that Journey to the Shore? You got some gall, Kiyoshi!
I miss the real Kiyoshi. I miss the real Kiyoshi. The danger you can't see but you can feel Kiyoshi. Stain on the wall Kiyoshi. Man, that was all Kiyoshi. Remember jellyfishin' mesmerism baller Kiyoshi?

Click through to read the rest. Letterboxd doesn't seem to have a large audience, and the site is still sluggish, but it's gathered what feels like the last of the cinephiles in a cozy little commune. Whereas many still turn to Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic to make filmgoing decisions, I'm far more reliant on reviews from folks I follow on Letterboxd.

Having watched over 3,000 movies in my life, I now crave both narrative and formal novelty much more than I used to, and the average mainstream film has lost a lot of its appeal. I still love to sit in a darkened theater, alone with just the image on the screen. True, there are only so many plots, but how the movies choose to shoot them can also do with constant renewal. A quick scan of ratings and reviews on Letterboxd is a far more reliable gauge to locating the type of movie I'm likely to enjoy at this stage in my life. In the area of aesthetic evaluation, score a small victory for niche-community-based reviews over the professional critic community (what little of the latter remains) or over algorithms like Netflix recommendations.

I'm a Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan, but I've yet to see Creepy. I'll always have a sentimental attachment to Kurosawa because his movie Cure was really the first movie I remember seeing at a film festival, at the Seattle International Film Festival way back in 2001 (?). It is creepy and sublime and a great introduction to his techniques for building dread. When I think of his movies I think of suspense built out in a single shot, usually a long or medium shot, with no cuts, as if the other more famous Kurosawa had decided to venture into horror and suspense. Kiyoshi Kurosawa would make an interesting VR director.

You see a Kurosawa scene playing out almost as if shot with a camcorder pointed out a mundane scene from everyday life, and then, bit by bit, you spot it. Evil. Uncoiling almost casually, camouflaged because it moves at the same pace as everyday life. It's what I think of as his signature style, a way to locate the horror hiding in plain sight amidst the seeming order of everyday Japanese life. I've only seen Cure that one time at SIFF and yet I can still picture some of the scenes, the mise-en-scene was so striking.

If you're a fan of Se7en or No Country For Old Men, give Cure a spin. I deliberately chose two very famous movies, though they are formally very distinct from Kurosawa's style, because they rhyme thematically. They inspired, in me, a claustrophobic sense of dread. The most terrifying evil is the one that can't be explained, can't be understood. In confronting it you look into the abyss.