In this complex flashback narrative that fuses danger, sorrow, and loveliness, detective Nishi (writer-director Takeshi Kitano) is a quiet yet volatile man who takes a road trip with his dying wife, while his partner Horibe (Ren Osugi) trains himself to be an artist after being paralyzed on the job. Intercutting between the lonely, productive Horibe and Nishi, whose time with his wife is periodically interrupted by violent face-offs with organized criminals, the movie is as full of shocking, staccato brutality as meditative calm. Several static compositions presented in satisfying long takes function as serene still lifes, and tight close-ups of sumptuous paintings and drawings (by Takeshi), with their saturated colors and surreal yet iconic imagery, are as forceful as the depictions of the gruesome maimings and killings that enable Nishi to keep the future at bay. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, March 20 through 26. --Lisa Alspector
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.