PICK Ten Nights of Dreams: Japanese Anthology Film Is Enthrallingly Weird

Based on an anthology of short stories published by Japanese writer Natsume Soseki in 1908, Ten Nights is a sometimes terrifying, sometimes wildly amusing, and occasionally flat interpretation of Soseki's tales by a who's-who of Japanese filmmakers. To achieve the surreal dreamscapes mapped out on the page, the assorted directors toy with genre (Kon Ichikawa's "Second Dream" is in part a tongue-in-cheek silent film that takes playful aim at the tenets of Buddhism and themythology of the samurai), use Claymation, serve up off-kilter hip-hop dance moves, and shape unnerving shadows through artful lighting. Of special note is the wistful "First Dream," which was directed by the late Akio Jissoji just before his death in 2006, and is especially resonant as it deals with the feelings of abandonment and confusion following the death of a loved one. But the highlights of this collection are The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu's "Third Dream," with its fused psychology of writer's block and paternal angst personified in the form of a creepy puppet-child, and the final dream, directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, whose wittily biting stance on pork consumption would earn it the PETA seal of approval.

 
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