Before the feature presentation, Kevin showed us an Oscar-nominated short from animator Bill Plympton called The Fan and the Flower.

Hey look, on the right is a rod photoreceptor outer segment!

It’s a cute little short about a lonely ceiling fan that falls in love with a lonely flower in the home of an old lady, though doomed to never touch.  In her old age, the lady begins to neglect the flower until it is nearly dead from lack of water.  Then, one rainy night, the fan cranks itself up to ludicrous speed, breaks its mooring, and sacrifices itself in crashing a hole into the ceiling – through which the rain that saves the flower falls.  When the flower is eventually planted in the garden, it blooms with spinning, fan-shaped petals in honor of its savior.

It was a nice counterpoint to this week’s film, which was pretty dark.  The film is titled Cure, a 1997 Japanese film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira).  I had some trouble finding non-disturbing screencaps from the film (not that there weren’t non-disturbing portions, in fact the gory scenes were few and far between – it’s just that apparently these are the scenes folks wanted to duplicate) so the review may be a bit short.

Plus, I’m not really sure what happened in the movie, so that might decrease the length as well.

That's it! I should have storyboarded this film!

The film starts with a police detective (whose wife has severe memory problems) following the case of what seems to be a very strange serial killer – strange in that the killer’s MO is identical in each case, but that the actual killer is always a different person, always apprehended near the scene, and always…well, not so much amnesic about the crime as bizarrely indifferent.  It’s as if killing one’s wife just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  All the killers carve a deep “X” into the throat of the deceased.

Meanwhile we follow a seemingly amnesic man as he leaves a murderous wake behind him.  He doesn’t seem to know who he is, or remember where he is, and his affliction entices people to let their guard down.  After which he hypnotizes them and leaves them to do the dirty work.

His “victims” – a housewife, a rural police station attendant – seem to have no pattern.  And after he jumps from about three stories for no particularly good reason other than that the police wanted to know why he was on the roof, he seems to slightly twist his ankle and is taken to the hospital.

"Then I heard of Dr. X, the man with the cure, just watch the television yeah you'll see there's something going on."

He hypnotizes the nurse and she kills a random guy in the men’s room.  A typically Japanese man walks in on the murder scene and apologetically walks away.

Anyhow, the trail is getting hotter and eventually our heroic cop is led to the killer’s former home (he paid a year’s rent then disappeared, but the landlord didn’t seem to mind), where he finds some disturbing things.

Shower no evil

Like a dead, petrified monkey twisted into a double “X”.  Or a bunch of creepy material written by Dr. Franz Mesmer.  You know, the mystic ancestor of hypnotism.

Tell me it looks like a BUTTERFLY!

Well, our cop finally catches up with our hypnotist, who promptly tries (and fails) to hypnotize him – apparently our cop has special powers of resistance.  But things happen.  The mesmer-man escapes (apparently normal guards succumb more easily to Jedi mind tricks), the Cop has weird visions of his wife hanging herself and safely tucks her away into a mental hospital while he obsesses over finding the killer…umm, killer-maker.  Or whatever he is.  He eventually finds himself at a barn he has seen in a mesmer-induced illusion.

All of a sudden, I'm in a Grant Wood painting!

Naturally, the killer is there, the cop finds him, and after the killer professes his admiration for the cop’s ability to resist hypnosis and goes off on some sort of bizarre religion-based rant implying that he was sent by some Mesmer-God as a prophet, our cop double-taps him.

Then we see the cop’s wife being carried out of the mental hospital with an “X” across her throat (who killed her? we don’t know) and the cop appears to influence a waitress into preparing to kill a coworker.

So like he’s the prophet now, or something.  Except his sign is the “Z” (as slashed through the credits) instead of the “X”.  Like I said, it doesn’t really make much sense.  You know, the classic “cop chases deadly prophet, cop kills deadly prophet, cop becomes new deadlier prophet” movie.  Except the whole backstory isn’t very well fleshed out.  Imagine, say, the ending of “Casablanca”.  Except that instead of Rick saying “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life,” instead he says “Just kidding!  I’m the Über-Vampire-Nazi!” and chews through Ilsa and Victor Laszlo’s jugulars.  That’s kind of what the ending was like, except maybe not so dramatic.

But the really weird thing is this: while searching for images for this write-up, I found the following:

Page 45 of "Cure Film Kurosawa" on Google images

Gee…that looks familiar!  Why, it’s Chauncey Gardner’s last scene from “Being There”, our film from just two weeks ago!  Umm, I have no idea why this image shows up for “Cure Film Kurosawa”, but there you go.

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