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The seventh and most sombre work from the Japanese director Takeshi Kitano. The fact that his movies-like his TV appearances, radio shows, and everything else-have become a cult should not be held against the man; he has carved out his own style, clipped and elliptical, and that is rare enough these days. In the new film, which he also wrote and co-edited, Kitano plays Nishi, a policeman on the slide. Some colleagues were shot on duty, and, rightly or wrongly, Nishi takes the blame. Meanwhile, his wife is dying, so he takes her away for a country vacation, which he finances by robbing a bank; despite all the cops and gangsters on their trail, the two of them enjoy a last, almost wordless idyll. No one but Kitano would have thought to combine cold spasms of violence with such a tender portrait of marriage, or to tinge the whole tale with black comedy; if you can take that mixture, and if you can follow the sly complications of Kitano's chronology, you will not be disappointed. In Japanese. -Anthony Lane Copyright 2006 The New Yorker

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NYFV66698 Fireworks VHS (1998/Takeshi Kitano) $12.99