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Zen Noir (2004)

 -  Comedy | Drama | Mystery  -  21 April 2004 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 224 users   Metascore: 27/100
Reviews: 16 user | 7 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen.

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The Detective
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The Master
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Jane
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Ed
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Nora (as Jennifer Siebel)
Howard Fong ...
The Dead Monk
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Storyline

A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen.

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death | detective | zen | buddhist | sword | See more »

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Sometimes the mystery is bigger than you think

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Comedy | Drama | Mystery

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21 April 2004 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
What is the sound of one film being excellent?
4 June 2010 | by (Leiden, the Netherlands) – See all my reviews

The pre-credits opening scene of Marc Rosenbush's 2004 film "Zen Noir" shows an undershirt-wearing, unshaven, classic film noir detective gazing at himself in the bathroom mirror and saying in voice-over, "The morning fog clung to the city like the scent of desperation on an aging drag queen. Why do I talk this way?" Marc had me at the title of his film, but these first lines clinched the deal.

I stumbled upon the title of this movie in a list of Zen-related films on the IMDb. Never having heard of it before, I looked it up, and immediately set about getting myself a copy of it. "What is not to like," thought I, "about a movie that combines a love of film noir with Zen?" The answer to that koan, as it turns out, is very Zen in itself: Nothing.

Still in voice-over, our nameless detective describes how he got involved in his latest case: "I'd been up all night and had just hit the feathers when the phone went off like Easter Sunday in my skull. A guy with an accent -- Japanese maybe -- said to haul ass to the temple, 'cause someone is about to die. 'What temple,' I said, 'and who the hell are you?' but he'd already hung up. Three synagogues later it occurred to me that there aren't a lot of Chinese Jews, so I wound up here -- barely conscious, half asleep, and with a murder to solve." Cut to a Zen monk banging on a gong to call the monks to practice. The monks arrive, and sit there meditating. The first monk suddenly utters a kind of grunt and falls over, dead. The other monks at first just keep meditating, and then two of them look quizically at each other, like "What now?" Then the detective barges in wearing a trenchcoat and pointing a gun at everybody. "Nobody move," he says. Nobody was moving before. Then he says, "OK, who's in charge here?" and the two monks who looked at each other earlier turn and point to him. "My kinda movie," thought I.

Low-budget without looking it, this guy's first (and so far only) movie is a delight. Not Academy Award material, but a lot of fun, especially for a group of seekers watching it together and passing around the tofu popcorn while chuckling. Funny, and even with a spiritual lesson or two to teach, because it proposes a truly excellent koan.

Spiritual seekers are all detectives, eating an orange and trying to solve the mystery of their own inevitable murder at the hands of life. The koan posed by this film's Zen Master is, "You gonna freak out, or eat orange?" If you can find it, I suspect you'd really like this film. If nothing else, it's full of great one-liners you can chuckle over with friends like yourself who might like this sorta thing. Don't bogart the tofu.


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