Cool, stylized and deeply odd, this astringently maudlin fable about the healing power of art and the enduring strength of bitter bonds of loyalty and love is wrapped in a cop movie so hard-boiled it's cracked. Tough-guy police detective Nishi ("Beat"
Takeshi Kitano) is at the end of his rope, sick to death of running down punks and gangsters, haunted by the death of his colleague Tanaka (Makoto Ashikawa), the terminal illness of his wife Miyuki (Kayoko Kishimoto) and the despair of his best friend Horibe (Ren Osugi). Paralyzed by a sadistic
yakuza, abandoned by his family and unable to work, Horibe is suicidal, until Nishi's gift of a box of art supplies allows him to act on a vague desire to paint. As Horibe begins experimenting with brightly colored but bizarre images of animals with flowers for heads, Nishi concocts a
brazen plan to rob a bank and take his wife on a last sentimental vacation. Forewarned is forearmed: The fluid, disorienting shifts between austere sentimentality and vicious violence that drive this disturbing film are familiar to fans of Japanese filmmaker and media phenomenon Takeshi Kitano
(who acts under the name Beat Takeshi, a holdover from his days as a stand-up comedian), but may leave newcomers perplexed and even angry. With his cool little sunglasses, sleek suits and great big gat, Kitano looks like a conventional movie badass. But the guns and poses cover a bottomless chasm
of existential despair, and rather than lightening the load, the movie's weird interludes of silly humor only make it worse. Eccentric and haunting.
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