Before We Vanish ★★★★

Yourself and others. Kurosawa moving around between riffing on Invasion of Body Snatchers and Carpenter’s Starman. Part of what make this so effective and evocative is that by combining science fiction at its most destructive and benign, he finds a way so every scene in both parts of the bifurcated narrative is allowed some horror and a stroke of sentimentality. His usual knack for operating in the dissolving border of genre and at allowing open ended concepts to resonate is put to great use, as is his affinity for landscape and matter of fact humor. As a backdoor alien invasion, Before We Vanish shows some of Kurosawa more inventive out of nothing scenes and as often the case he adds a lot of small bits of business that keep the action grounded. The alien otherness and curiosity is played for more possibility than other versions of the material and the metaphysical healing of marriage that serves as the film backbone is affecting. Journey to the Shore, Creepy and Before We Vanish are all very unusual tales of remarriage from the perspective of genres (ghost tales, serial killer film, alien invasion) that might seem odd fits for it and I find Kurosawa concentration and desire to play with its possibilities very affirming. This is great exploratory sci-fi and in its desire to combine so many disparate elements and make a coherent terryifying yet sentimental throughline out of it, a reminder Kurosawa is one of the few true masters we have working.