Haru, an aging scriptwriter, has isolated himself somewhere in the woods of Nagano to work on his first novel. As the last surviving member of his kin, he intends to chronicle the family he grew up in.
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
A hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, putting him into conflict with his treacherous wife, with a mysterious woman eager for death and with the phantom-like hit-man known only as Number One.
Edogawa Rampo was a peculiar Japanese writer whose works were heavily influenced by Edgar Allan Poe (in fact, the pseudonym Edogawa Rampo is just the Japanese pronunciation of Poe's name). His stories often dealt with macabre thematics, dark twists and sexual perversions. In other words, they seem perfectly adaptable to film, and indeed they were brought to the big screen, several times. One of those efforts is Akio Jissoji's 1998 film The D-Slope Murder Case, also known under the title Murder on D-Street, based on Rampo's novel.
The film follows detective Kogoro Akechi, the famous character from Rampo's book series (basically the Japanese Sherlock Holmes) solving a strange murder case revolving around bondage artwork and art forgery. As you might expect from a Jissoji film, there's plenty of sadomasochism and creative camera angles. The mystery itself isn't really a mystery because we already know who the murderer is, so the main question is his motivation (the explanation for this is pretty wild). The actual investigation is really short and almost an afterthought (those psychological tests were the bomb back in the day I guess).
The film has that lovely eerie Poe-ish atmosphere, boosted by a dissonant soundtrack, dark locations and interesting choices in direction. For example, the budget was too small to recreate the big towns from the 20s so the city scenes (transitions, mainly), show a small model of the city with little figurines that are supposed to be the passersbies, which is pretty ingenious. I also like the scenes which show the process behind creating a drawing; they're just so sensual and mesmerizing. The bondage scenes are to be expected from Jissoji, but they fit this movie better than they fit his earlier film Utamaro's World. Here, they do add to the dark atmosphere.
By the way, that poster kicks some serious ass.
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