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LABYRINTH OF DREAMS

Japan, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Regional)

Director: Ishii Sogo

Sogo Ishii's Labyrinth Of Dreams is radically removed from Angel Dust, his last film seen in Australia (MIFF 1995). However their polar differ­ences indicate the breadth and scope of Ishii's creativity. Both films have at their core the unspoken and unforgiving temperament of the serial killer, and his power over others.

Romance is intensified in Labyrinth Of Dreams: the Asiatic Gothic figure of Mr Nitaka casts a sexual shadow across the diminutive Tomiko. He is the bus driver; she is his guide and ticket collector. He may have killed other guides: she is suspicious yet mesmerised by his stoic pres­ence. Before long, the question of his circum­spect past is enveloped by the disturbingly distant way in which each attaches to the other. Sexual psychosis and emotional instability even­tually drive their relationship - as blindly as their bus weaves across the unguarded train tracks in the forested hills.

As much as Angel Dust cut the skin of your eye and penetrated the ear drum with its incisive soundtrack, Labyrinth just as potently massages, steels, haunts and tantalises. With gorgeous (but never gratuitous) cinematography by Ishii's long­standing DOP, Norimichi Kasamatsu, and a lus­cious ambient score by Onagawa Hiroyuki, Labyrinth Of Dreams is the sign of a measured control and artistic diversity.

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