The Fourth Dimension

This essay film about contemporary Japan is the most visually pleasing work to date by writer Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose films often approach foreign cultures through a series of contrasting and layered perspectives. Trinh shot it herself in digital video, an exploration that may account for its distinct look, though her aphoristic narration fails to provide the degree of unity found in most of her films. (Its method recalls her 1991 documentary about China, Shoot for the Contents, more than her earlier African documentaries, Reassemblage and Naked SpacesLiving Is Round.) When she isn’t shooting landscapes from bullet trains and reflecting on what this mode of transport suggests about the country, a good deal of what she shows falls under the category of public spectacle. But like most of her work, this is provocative, intelligent, poetic, and certainly worth a look. 87 min. (JR)

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