Thursday, January 21, 2010
Held over at the IFC Center til Tuesday: what happens when you give a Japanese ad man (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi of the Charles Bronson MANDOM commercials) way too much money to make a movie? No, I'm not talking about Survive Style 5+, although that movie is awesome, too. Think weirder. Think matte sunset paintings, eye popping color saturation, wind machines indoors, editing that goes beyond just being "unconventional," more and more mattes, visual metaphor (?), playground style misogyny, uncalled for animation, stop motion, and a sunny soundtrack that's far more suited to the CMs the director was accustomed to crafting than a ghost story, even one as bizarre as this.
Oh yeah, did I mention it's a ghost story? Still, I hesitate to call this a horror movie. There's too much of a distinct childlike sensibility here. Chalk that one up to most of the plot being the product of the imagination of the director's daughter. When people talk/write about this movie, they like to say "it's like [INSERT HERE] on acid." The color palate, editing, and relentlessly bizarre visuals do lend themselves to a psychedelic vibe, but in my opinion, it's an oversimplification and implies that the director was not being deliberate. Dreamlike would be the term I'd use. Hypnagogic works, too.
Believe me, the arsenal of special film techniques used in this movie didn't just happen on their own. They come in and out and overlap and twist and confuse and that's the whole point. Among the rule annihilating cuts, complete breaks in style, and muddled dialog (characters tend to talk over each other, which can make the dialog hard to follow for those of us dependent on the subtitles), all that apparent chaos is actually building the aesthetic. Sneaky. And defining that aesthetic is just about impossible. There's not really a context to discuss it in, except for Japanese CMs. Even so, this is a full length movie we're talking about. The fact the film is intentionally difficult to comprehend in the same way you (AKA an audience) would normally deal with a horror/any film, much less be able to quickly break it down and analyze it, is likely a huge part of its appeal to the cult film community.
Also, I'd like to point out that this was not an obscure director's final career ruining film, as many have implied. Far from it, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi went on to direct many many feature films and successful CMs. Check out his IMDB entry if you want to know more.
Anyway, if I were a good blogger, I would have pimped this part harder at the top of the entry, but alas, it's going down here. SHOWTIMES AND TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE DO IT GO GO GO BE HAPPY GO GO