starring Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase, Shota Sometani, Adiz Radjabov
written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
by Walter Chaw Kiyoshi Kurosawa's still best known to Western audiences, if he's known at all, as one of the progenitors of the Japanese J-Horror movement, which gained traction in the United States in the years immediately following 9/11. Once the U.S. joined Japan as an industrialized nation experiencing the detonation of a large-scale weapon of mass destruction over a populated area, I think it also took on Japan's cinematic mechanisms for coping: nihilistic horror films where evil comes with neither warning nor explanation--and city-levelling kaiju eiga in the form of a nearly-uninterrupted glut of superhero movies. Kurosawa's twin masterpieces, Cure and Pulse, deal in issues of technophobia and isolation with a painterly eye and a poet's patience. They are among the most frightening films of the last quarter-century, proving perpetually current as our world, and our reality with it, continues to fray. His movies used to feel like cautionary tales; now they feel like prophecy. Pulse, especially, with its tale of ghosts in the machine and airplanes falling from the sky, throbs with an insistent, hopeless melancholy that speaks to the essential loneliness of existence. It's as important a work in its way as anything by Camus or Sartre.