Kuroneko ★★★★

Seems a presage to the gender wars of today, yet with a cultural precision based in spirit world theatricality so pure (yin/yang) and unalloyed that solely high-grade love (imagination/air) and eternal-grade death (samurai/war) are possible. Shintoism and Buddhism seems to inform the better Japanese ghost stories and legends. It heightens the dramatic postulates into dharma (social obedience) versus wild afterlife possibilities: a yurei (幽霊), or ghost stuck between 2 worlds is one such member. It frames many Japanese horror films and famous prints. Am I a heretic for claiming Kaneto Shindō a master lyricist of two worlds? Beauty and Pain? His filmography and the artistry of his passions are unique, with a depth humans rarely reach and write about successfully. Kuroneko places horror in a temple of philosophical devotion to evil and all which is defined by that most vigorous antithesis to the dynamism of living spirit. There is a death head in this film which refuses to extinguish the stage play-styled light of memory and retribution--they are wedded in our frail selfish definitions of justice, hence the tragedy of human allegiance only to ourselves. But, wasn't the stylistic black and white cinematography of proscenium-bounded space mesmerizing--i.e. the samurai husband pacing his horse back and forth in front of the Rajomon Gate at night? Those interiors within the mystical house among the sinister bamboo forest? And didn't those scenes of lovemaking ache? Recommended.