Cover Art and Menu: 9/10
Ahhh, relief from the crap covers, thanks to HVE. I love this particular cover for some reason. Maybe the simplicity is the thing. It does have a certain creepiness about it. That is kind of a hint of what’s to come when you watch the film. I like this cover, obviously, and the main reason is that any DVD graphic arts team can put together a descent image for their covers. It’s not brain surgery people. Just put a little heart into it and remember that we, the DVD collecting public, will have these little flat boxes on our shelves for a long time. We deserve a bit of artistic consideration.
The menus echo the cover design, with the flame and the slashed X that has it’s place in the movie. It’s an uncomplicated design. I appreciate that.
Extras & Features: 7/10
- 20 minute interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa – This director is an interesting man, needless to say once you watch the film. He discusses the inspiration for the story of Cure. He starts with concept that people have many sides to them, even more than we convince ourselves we have, including the possibility that a “good” person can succumb to doing something like commit murder, even though the people around them might say, “He seemed so nice and quiet.”. This discussion lasts about twenty minutes and if you decide to become a Kurosawa fan, which is not a hard decision to make, this is an excellent start to studying his genuine love of telling character driven stories that draw on some deeper aspects of the human condition. If you like listening to his thoughts it will seem to short. I thought it was too short, just so you know.
- Filmography – List of Kurosawa films (does this still count as an extra?)
- Liner Notes by Tom Mes – Ok, I normally like liner notes to be included in DVD’s, HOWEVER, this time the groovy menu/cover design does not transfer to a clearly printed bit of reading material. The problem is the black background with semi-light colored font that is set so small that it takes a magnifying glass just to see the little buggers. Well, maybe I need glasses, but STILL, it’s hard to read, trust me. I still like what the notes had to add to the information on the film. A brief, very brief, overview of how Cure found itself in the middle of a modern movie culture just becoming acclimated to an era of serial killer films and odd stories with mysterious myths behind them. Like I said, I appreciate these little printed tid bits, but I would like to see a booklet instead of one sheet, AND to have the text to be less difficult to read, if that’s not asking too much.
- Original Theatrical Trailer – Trailer
The Movie: 8/10:
For exploring the human psyche you can’t get better than Kurosawa’s vision of what we might have hidden deep down in the caves of our minds. He has delved into something that eerily taps at our subconscious and asks the question, “could I ever do something truly evil?” The evil in this instance would be murder, and in Cure a metropolitan detective is battling against a serial killing spree that doesn’t seem to have just one suspect. He has to find a connection between several murders with strikingly similar characteristics including a large X carved into each victim.
There is more to the story than just the pursuit of a killer, there are many levels of human pain and suffering going on. It sounds depressing, but it’s very stimulating and thought provoking to tell you the truth. There are times when the pace of the film might not suit us Hollywood babies, with long quiet shots which don’t always hold the attention of those amongst us who might like a constant flow of moving images in front of their faces. The steady deliberate pace of the film is exactly right though considering the story and the effect these murders are having on the few characters we encounter. This is not just about finding a criminal, instead, it takes a dark look at just how easily we may or may not be influenced to turn to a dark side of our own personalities and commit a heinous crime. The catalyst is not necessarily dependant on the cause that unfolds through the film, but it’s meant to remind us of how fragile our own ability to stick to our morals can really be.
I am really impressed with most of the cast, but then I do have one complaint. The young man who plays the, well for lack of a better word, bad guy just fell short of that certain something a really intense story like Cure needs. He sometimes is has a touch of campy stage performing coming out. I have not seen him before, but there were moments when he seemed a bit TOO blah, even though his character is supposed to be “empty” and void of conscience. I just felt he didn’t fit with the other really really good cast members who took their roles to a more believable place for me.
The film also takes a sobering look at some of the most mundane aspects of metropolitan life, or to be honest, life in general. From the droning sound of an electric clothes dryer to the slow drip/dribble of water in a hollow sounding room there are so many moments when the atmosphere of this film becomes bigger than the movie itself. There is a lot of focus on things like the claustrophobic design of Japanese city life and it takes control of the film at times, which is intriguing.
The look of the movie is fantastic. The many long shots with characters being held far away from the camera keep us at an arm’s reach for a reason. We are not meant to be too close to the people who inhabit the world Kurosawa has created. They are not clearly defined as people, but more a mirror of us so to get too close could distract from the bigger picture. That picture being the more universal theme that every person is subjected to influences in life that can shake the foundation of who they think they are.
It’s an amazing film for many reasons, beyond the haunting story, there is so much here to feast your eyes on. The fantastic camera work, the scenes with the detective, the sounds, almost everything really kept me glued to the screen. I am starting a love affair with Japanese films, and this one cements the deal for sure. The late nineties was the time for serial killer flicks to flourish, and a lot of them got swept away in the rush, but not Cure. It stands out as a thriller you can watch years later and still feel the intensity.
Twenty-one bucks is always a bit steep for a DVD, but this particular one is not going to be on the shelf of every store due to simple supply and demand in American markets. I can handle this price for a quality film since it includes the cool interview with Kurosawa. It’s a great movie and I highly recommend it.
Overall Score 8/10