Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hypnotic Malefactors

A series of random murders in Tokyo trouble a worn down detective in the brilliantly opaque thriller The Cure. Already distracted by his wife's mental illness our protagonist is baffled by the grisly, mysterious crimes but once he encounters the peculiar catalyst of these horrors, a seemingly amnesiac young man with a gift for hypnosis, his grip on reality slips and the subsequent battle of wits changes everything. Impeccably shot with two excellent, understated performances at it's core the initial fugue like atmosphere is slowly suffused with a menace and dread that's deeply unsettling and which culminates in a profoundly disturbing final scene. Possibly one of the best psychological thrillers I've seen.

The hypnotic gifts of another miscreant, Count Cagliostro, propel events in 1949's melodrama Black Magic starring Orson Welles. I've never read Dumas' novel but am familiar with the story of the mystic/charlatan extraordinaire Balsamo and it makes for good entertainment in this sumptuous period piece stuffed as it is with intrigue, indiscretions and mesmerisations. Orson has a field day as the ambitious main character who achieved great fame for his healing powers but over reaches once invited into the presence of Marie Atoinette. Almost a direct opposite to The Cure, this is a light, mildly amusing historical romp with little to say but plenty of charm.

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