A red herring-strewn mystery, shot in black-and-white and almost silent, Hayashi's debut is something like a Japanese Tintin adventure made by Alain Resnais. It concerns a silent swashbuckler film that combusts before its finale, a trio of magicians, and the venerable Madame Cherry-Blossom, whose daughter has been abducted by the shady consortium 'M Pathé and Co'. To Sleep, So As to Dream prospects the borders between film and reality, dream and wakefulness, but it's also a larky pastiche of the '20s sleuth genre, with detective heroes Uotsuka (Shiro) and Kobayashi (Koji) as intrepid stout-hearts in the Sexton Blake and Tinker tradition. Hayashi lays on surreal humour with flair, but the movie is above all a disquisition on film conventions, Japanese and Western, antique and modern. Most audaciously, Hayashi punctures the silence with ringing phones and the spoken interventions of a benshi, the traditional commentator of silent cinema. Although it doesn't quite approach the magic of Circus Boys, it's a wonderfully inventive, genuinely eerie narrative experiment.