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Week of February 4, 2004

Uzumaki (Vortex) (unrated) Higuchinsky. Using as source material a Japanese manga (comic book) loosely translated as Vortex, director Higuchinsky takes one man's obsession with the spiral form and pursues its destructive ripple effect. Teenager Kirie anchors the story, investigating puzzling incidents and commenting in voiceover that she finds her small town increasingly, inexplicably strange. The spiral appears in the snail shell that townsperson Saito videotapes and in the pottery he creates, as well as in staircases, tunnels, cochlea, hairdos, windshield cracks, swirling clouds from the crematorium and, more bizarrely, in the back muscles of the slimy young man who lurches about when it rains and in several victims' mutated, twisted torsos. Momentum from the gliding, at times spiraling, camera and from the pulsating music heightens tension in several unsettling scenes, especially one involving a millipede. Often feeling more thematically contrived than narratively coherent, the story resonates with its own obsessive-compulsive mania as it exploits clever associations. In Japanese with English subtitles. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 10, in the Lewis Room of the Fontbonne University Library, 6800 Wydown. Call 314-719-8061 for more information. (Diane Carson)

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