Eureka

Shinji Aoyama's 220-minute wide-screen film offers a moving reflection on the devastating effects of senseless violence and the fragmented life of contemporary Japan. The inexplicable hijacking of a city bus ends with six dead and only three survivors—a brother and sister in middle school and their bus driver (powerfully played by Koji Yakusho). The bus driver moves in with the children, and they cruise around the island of Kyushu trying to recover from the trauma, accompanied by the children's lively cousin. The characters' wanderings take place against a landscape of utility poles and parking lots, volcano craters and scattered buildings, and the compositions and camera movement are both precise and elegant. There are also some impressive long takes, including one near the end, a stunning essay in shifting perspectives, that reveals the identity of a serial killer. Aoyama says he was influenced by The Searchers as well as two hypnotic pop albums, Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and Jim O'Rourke's Eureka.

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