Tehran-born French writer-director Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female) introduced the screening of his latest by declaring, in a fromage-thick accent, this is "the movie of a film buff." He wasn't kidding. Shot mostly in Tokyo (which doubles for Kyoto), the artifice of genre cinema, particularly noir, serves as the fulcrum of this taut, if predictable, psychological thriller. Adapted by Schroeder, Jean-Armand Bougrelle and Frédérique Henri from a novel by the late, and legendary, Japanese detective novelist Edogawa Rampo (that his name phonetically mirrors Edgar Allen Poe's is no coincidence), the story follows arrogant French crime writer Alex Fayard's (Benoît Magimel) search for the reclusive and mysterious Shundei Oe, a thinly-veiled Rampo whose work Alex reveres even as the press declares him Shundei's successor. Shortly after Alex enlists the help of his Japanese publisher's publicity flak Honda (Gen Shimaoka), the plot further thickens (an apt description for this purposefully self-conscious potboiler) when a beautiful, French-speaking geisha named Tamao (Lika Minamoto) informs Alex that she knows Shundei--and that he's trying to kill her.
Inju, the Beast in the Shadow Uptown, 1:15 p.m. Sat., June 6 and Cinerama, 4:15 p.m. Fri., June 12.