It sounds a lot like Hitchcock, and there's a good reason for that. Adapted from a mystery novel by Seicho Matsumoto for director Yoshitaro Nomura, Zero Focus is one of several successful collaborations between the two that draw on Western-style technique to approximate the same atmosphere of suspense and danger for which Hitchcock was by that time already well known. That's not to say that Zero Focus is in any way a knock-off; Nomura had his own technique, and it was a good one. But the comparison serves to show how many of Zero Focus's devices - the mouse-trap plot, the slow reveal, our heroine's voyage from innocence to revelation - are familiar to moviegoers as Hitchcock's stock in trade.
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Ozu plops his camera down in each scene and never moves it, giving us a directorial simplicity and stuffiness that melds beautifully with the vitriol on screen. It's just like Japan: All smiles on faces but turmoil in the gut. This allegory about appearances and attitudes is simply too rich to miss.
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