HungFist wrote:The one exception was his final Nikkatsu release, Dream Crimes, which however is an utter mess of a neo noir if you ask me.
Do you mean 夢犯 (1985), with the Takashi Ishii screenplay? I've been meaning to track that down on VHS eventually, same as ルージュ (1984).
Yep. Don't set your expectations too high. It's like a B-version of the first Black Angel movie. Kurosawa + Ishii sounded like a dream team, but this is both of them at their worst.
Rouge is kinda good. The main problem is with the ending, which is way too simple considering the skilful build-up. This may be the director's (Nasu) or the studio's fault rather than Ishii's. Weisser and Robert Firsching
both write identical non-sense fairytales about the film's ending - none of the stuff they describe is actually in the film. To add to the confusion, the Japanese website Movie Walker
describes yet another slightly different ending with stuff that isn't in the film. Just to make sure I'm not crazy I had my (Japanese) girlfriend watch the last 30 min of the film and she agreed, all the plot descriptions were all nonsense.
I don't know what's going on here, but I find it hard to believe there would be several different versions of the film out there. Perhaps the film's screenplay is available, or maybe there's a manga version, or an early plot description or something, that these "professionals" used as their reference, I don't know... The VoD version
I watched was no doubt taken from the VHS and runs the same 94 or 95 min that all databases quote as the running time...
Explanation with spoilers:
Both Weisser and Firsching praise the film for an ambiguous ending which leaves it unclear whether the killer (of Muraki) was Nami or her reporter boyfriend. Actually there's no ambiguity at all. We see in long detailed scene how Nami stabs him, blood sprays all over her, and she even washes the blood in the next scene. The reporter is sleeping at the hotel all this time, and when she comes back and is about to smoke a cigarette, he takes a lighter out of her bag and discovers the lighter is covered in blood (because Muraki used it when he was killed). Talk about ambiguous ending...
Movie Walker "makes up" something else. They explain that after the killing Nami walks on the pier and hears someone calling her name... Actually no one calls her name. She's alone and just throws the lighter into the sea. The end.
Except for the ending the film is a stylish neo noir with good acting, good characters and good storyline. As the 94 minute running time suggests, it's not much of a typical Nikkatsu exploitation flick, but something that would essentially pass as a mainstream film. Director Hiroyuki Nasu isn't known as the studio's top director, but here he handles the material quite well. The film certainly has a strong Ishii feeling, resembling his other drama-driven films like Original Sin, Alone in the Night, A Night in Nude, or Love Hotel, though it's not quite as good as those films.
English language sources usually consider this a part of the Angel Guts series, but I think it's pretty safe to say that's nonsense, too. Just being a neo noir scripted by Ishii, and featuring Nami and Muraki as characters (like almost all screenplays Ishii ever wrote), doesn't make it a part of the series...