Séance Kiyoshi Kurosawa

This is the second film version of Mark McShane's Séance on a Wet Afternoon, with some distinctive touches from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Alas, those touches come too little, too late. Koji Yakusho stars as a TV sound engineer, with Jun Fubuki as his psychic wife. While on location recording forest noises, a little girl fleeing a kidnapper climbs into one of his equipment boxes and gets spirited away to his house. There, a plot is hatched, with the psychic set up to lead the police to the rescue and boost the profile of her powers. That it all ends in tears goes without saying, but the big surprise is the tentative and confused approach by the otherwise infallible director. Not only is the conceptual thrust of the film never really clear, but Kurosawa's distanced camera seems more prosaic than tense; and as the images aren't loaded with import, there's nothing for us to react to. Snatches of Séance seem promising, only to spin off into incoherence, and though some spooky guilt projections (and the startling appearance of a doppelganger) rally things somewhat near the finish line, it's not enough to build the movie up from the chaotic fizzle it's been. Still, its confusion is more fertile that most people's clear-eyed successes, so you may want to check it out and students of Kurosawa will want to see the opening conversation, which sums up much of cinema. Extras include a ten-minute Kurosawa interview, in which he explores the themes of the film (including a bit that originated with Catherine the Great), a trailer gallery and a short essay by Gabe Klinger that's sometimes fascinating and sometimes too fancy for its own good. (Home Vision/Morningstar)