Charisma Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Whatever else can be said about Charisma, there's no denying it's completely unlike any other movie ever made. Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa calls it his Indiana Jones film, but I must have missed the one in the series where a disgraced cop from the city wanders out into the forest to witness a battle over a tree. And it's not even a nice tree but a sickly, leafless thing that's poisoning the forest around it. But there's an obsessive man defending it against all comers, a lady scientist who would like it gone to save the woodland and the scientist's spunky sister who contradicts everything she says. That sounds like a weird plot — and coupled with Kurosawa's distanced, deadpan camerawork, it sure feels like one — but this is no random freak-out. The battle for Charisma (that's the name of the tree, did I mention they named the tree?) is one between the protection of a destructive individual and the suppression of that individual for the sake of society, with the battle, as in any Kurosawa flick, ending in a draw. And with its combination of Tarkovskian natural wonder, Beckett absurdity and good old fashioned movie élan, it's guaranteed that you'll care enough to see into its deeply troubled heart of darkness. If you claim to have seen a similar movie, please send your address so I can call you a liar to your face. Extras include a six-minute interview with the director where he describes how what was to be a lavish Italy-set production found itself shooting at the foot of Mt. Fuji, a rambling and incoherent "making of" featurette, a Kurosawa trailer gallery and great introductory liner notes by Midnight Eye writer Tom Mes. (Home Vision/Morningstar)