This 1994 thriller from Sogo Ishii--a young Japanese director best known for his fascination with the behavior of fringe groups--focuses on the vulnerability of a police investigator brought in to help find a serial killer whose victims are young women on crowded subway trains. Possessing near-telepathic powers and specializing in criminal psychopathology, the investigator, Setsuko, poses as a potential victim and begins to suspect her ex-lover and former research partner, a therapist who now runs a secretive deprogramming clinic for religious fanatics. Perfectly coiffured and seemingly imperturbable, Setsuko approaches madness as her psychological and sexual insecurities are dredged up by confrontations with her past and mind games with the suspected murderer. Except for the rather far-fetched denouement, the film exerts a hypnotic pull, surprising with its plot twists and dazzling with its disquieting vision of present-day Tokyo as gloomy, neon-littered urban sprawl populated by zombielike denizens susceptible to paranoia and feel-good pitches. A longtime innovator, Ishii uses plenty of experimental techniques in fashioning the nightmarish, insular ambience of a technocracy whose polished surfaces barely hide its disturbing undercurrents. Kaho Minami, as Setsuko, is compelling in her portrayal of a cool rationalist on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, August 23, 6:30 and 8:45; Saturday and Sunday, August 24 and 25, 3:15, 5:30, and 7:45; and Monday through Thursday, August 26 through 29, 6:30 and 8:45; 281-4114.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of woman from Angel Dust.