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N.Y. Screen: Weird and Moving

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You’ll never see an Oscar nod for Katsuhito Ishii, the brilliantly unbridled Japanese director of The Taste of Tea, opening February 23 at the ImaginAsian. Best known for his brutal anime sequences in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and his 2005 magic-trick menagerie Funky Forest: The First Contact (starring Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi), Ishii has cut a bizarre path through Japanese pop cinema. The former anime director mixes animation with lo-fi effects and live-action, like a more aggressive Michel Gondry. So, yes, The Taste of Tea is wonderfully weird: Trains explode from a young boy’s head, and a young girl is stalked by a gigantic version of herself. Yet it’s also his quietest film—and each character is rendered with a kind of cockeyed empathy.


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