The prolific Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been at work for nearly two decades, sometimes making straight-to-video features but more recently receiving some belated international recognition. The engrossing Cure (1998, 111 min.) stars Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?, The Eel) as a troubled detective exploring a series of murders committed through hypnotic suggestion (as in The Manchurian Candidate), and while its creepy mystery plot is easy enough to follow even when it turns metaphysical, it’s unsatisfying as a story precisely because it aspires to create a mounting sense of dread by enlarging questions rather than answering them. Like other recent thrillers by this director, it’s fairly grisly, though Kurosawa’s frequent long shots impart a cool, detached tone to the cruelty and violence. Stylistically it’s the most inventive Japanese feature I’ve seen in some time, much more unpredictable than Takeshi Kitano’s recent yakuza exercises. (JR)

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