Acclaimed genre director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's movies are typically rather "un-Japanese" affirmations of the soundness of irrationality, and his new film is no exception. With Bright Future, the man behind such metaphysical classics as Cure and Pulse has produced a hauntingly beautiful cautionary celebration of chaos amidst order. This time, however, Kurosawa ventures into some potentially touchy-feely territory, abandoning his usual psychological thriller template for a less rigidly structured dramatic approach. Thankfully, he emerges unscathed. Bright Future is at once an emotionally ripe and intimate character study, and a potent metaphysical reflection on modern-day alienation, all the time retaining the hallmark eeriness of the master of all things weird and creepy. Charismatic leads Odagiri Joe and Asano Tadanobu portray best friends Yugi and Mamoru, two listless young factory workers adrift in the endless urban sprawl of Tokyo, and when Mamoru is arrested for the seemingly senseless, brutal slaying of their middle-aged boss, Yugi's life spirals into despair. Mamoru is locked away, awaiting trial and possible execution, yet he continues to inflict his will on Yugi, barking strict orders for the care of his fragile, gossamer pet jellyfish to him through the metal sieve of his prison cell. Yugi becomes obsessed with the poisonous creature, and when it disappears under the floorboards of his ramshackle apartment, he becomes convinced it remains alive, floating like a gelatinous, glowing ghost through Tokyo's tributaries. It's up to Mamoru's estranged father to show Yugi the light, or is it the other way around? Full of stark, desaturated images and peppered with explosions — some horrifying, others liberating — of violence, Kurosawa's portrayal of modern-day Tokyo is anything but bright. Even the army of dayglo jellyfish that do, in fact, mysteriously begin to populate the city flee for more hospitable waters, like Chinese lanterns delivering untold wishes to the great beyond. But Kurosawa is really an optimist at heart. While Mamoru's anarchic act costs him his hope for any future, Yugi's liberation comes through genuine human connection. Of course, to swim with the jellyfish, he can't fear getting stung. (Uplink)