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Posts Tagged ‘peter sellers’

Koroshiya Ichi 1 (Ichi The Killer): This isn’t kitschy like normal people who pretend to like abnormal cinema might want you to believe. Even Takashi Miike asking for barf bags to be distributed at the theatre during the film’s release doesn’t make it tacky fodder for erstwhile gorehounds. Based on the original Manga series created by Hideo Yamamoto, (he’s also the cinematographer here) the film spits and cusses out a tale about two killers who respond only to pain, but in very different ways.

On one side, we have Kakihara – Yakuza’s kamikaze rogue and sado-masochist extraordinaire. He’s a practitioner of extreme physical pain, both self-inflicted and on anyone who wrongs him/spills his coffee/call his mother a whore. On the other side, we have Ichi, a man child whose past trauma has imbibed in him such a repulsion towards pain that it drives him to destroy every single fucking thing in the most brutal, unimaginable ways on his path to serenity and quiet masturbation. These two remind me of Batman and Joker in the sense that pain motivates them more than anything else does. Kakihara feeds off it to feel alive while Ichi begrudgingly needs it to live another day; their inclination towards it however is similarly perfunctory. Of course, my minions, there is a showdown and yes, it is gorgeous in a ‘hey, are those black swans with broken necks dancing in a pool of their own blood?’ way.

Actors – Tadanobu Asano, Suzuki Matsuo (the rogue detective) and Susumu Terajima (Funaki gang) – brilliantly play off their nonchalance towards bloodshed. This was almost necessary considering the film’s excessive misogynistic overtones. It could have so easily degenerated into an Asian art-house splatter fest, but the actors put on such a good show that we expect some of the scenes to be inexplicably more graphic than they actually are. Matsuo is especially great and sometimes scarier than the other two. He doesn’t treat violence as a luxury or deviancy, but as chore and that makes him more dangerous because he never has an off day. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nao Omori as Ichi though. He could have easily slipped into a less menacing suit and walked right into a buddy comedy with Jet Li. The rest blends in nicely with the overall decadence, be it through sound, sight or a tiny scream. The most memorable gore sequence was the one with the badass yakitori skewers and a pissed-off Kakihara. Poor Mr. Suzuki. Poor poor fellow.

From the deliriously intoxicating music that Karera Musication and Boredoms whip up in the shape of unearthly jazz and muddy psychedelia to the Yamamoto’s hideously chic visuals, Takashi Miike has given us plenty to chew on here. If Ôdishon (Audition) was his most stylish and visceral work as an artist and Visitor Q his most outrageously vivid, Koroshiya Ichi 1 falls somewhere in-between, gazing at our innermost perversions with lovingly bloodied eyes. Somewhere in there, love lurks amongst the shadows like that bald dude playing Satan in Passion Of Christ. You won’t feel it unless you look past the obvious. You can’t deny it because the type of porn you have downloaded over the years has a different story to say.

I am kidding. I’m sure you’re respectably normal…but that transsexual midget porn sure is a kick in the head, eh?

Gurotesuku (Grotesque): Kôji Shiraishi’s Gurotesuku is sort of like a nasty accident on the highway. You don’t want to look, but you do anyway. You tell the person sitting next to you, “oh man I wish everyone’s ok” but your sick mind is secretly wondering “Is that a piece of brain? Please tell me it’s a piece of brain. Oh how I wish that was a piece of brain”.

I wrote a paragraph on how grotesquely pointless this film was before realizing that maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to stylized Asian slasher films. The strike of vengeance by an underground director who’s frankly sick of all the pansy-excuses for gore that his emotionally crippled peers have put out over the past decade. I can picture Kôji Shiraishi downing his eleventh shot of Saki, wiping the spittle from his pornographic moustache and preaching to his choir of obese geishas and Yoshihiro Nishimura’s illegitimate children, “blutality for blutality’s sake, there isn’t any other way, my childlen”.

Of course, the truth could so easily be that Shiraishi was in fact secretly and simultaneously fathered and mothered by Jerry Springer and Ilsa – the evil Nazi warden. We’ll never know, I guess. One thing I do know is that the film has one of the nastiest and most predictable twists I’ve seen. It’s just wrong on two or three levels at least. Thankfully, the all-round shitty acting pushes it into a surrealist territory where the bad is good and the horrible can be terribly entertaining. It’s also cute that Hiroaki Kawatsure and Shigeo Ôsako try their bestest in the whole wide world to go beyond the clichés and allure us in with method shrieking/wailing/pleading, but it works as well as the dumbasses standing near the literature sections at our local bookstores with misleading ‘I Can Help You’ badges. Ôsako’s final speech to her captor is comical to the point that it comes across as being weirdly existentialistic. I half expected Peter Sellers to drift along and whack her in the head with a hardbound copy of Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There.

Kawatsure is convincing as the sadistic killer, but then again, very few people aren’t. No, really. Pick anyone you know. I bet most of them would fit the profile of a deranged sociopath. We’re all pretty fucked up when nobody’s looking anyway.

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Deliverance

In James Dickey’s novel Deliverance, four city slickers go through hell during a canoe trip in Georgia’s dangerously alienated wilderness. The film adaptation of this treacherous adventure has translated well with director John Boorman holding back virtually nothing. Yes, Burt Reynolds sports a tight swimming vest throughout the film. Yes, Ned Beatty is molested by a pair of psychotic hillbillies. And yes, those are horrid scars on Jon Voight’s chest. Despite these seemingly repulsive factors, this film is tougher than a brass knuckled fistfight. Behind every line of dialogue, every shot of the fictional Cahulawassee River and every splatter of blood, realism looms large and drama takes a backseat. And like T.S. Eliot says… Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

Cache

By the time the end credits for Cache rolled, I felt a strange sort of sadness; not at the situation that the film’s protagonist finds himself in, but rather at the mysteries that have been left locked up. Watching this film can leave you in limbo, in transit or just in a vivid mess where fear and rationale collide. But thankfully, the journey is just as mesmeric as it is unresolved. A wealthy suburban couple (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) discover a videotape which contains hours and hours of footage of their swank residential complex. Pretty soon, they also discover a childlike painting of toddlers vomiting blood. For the next hour and a half, the director Michael Haneke takes every opportunity to convince us that we haven’t a clue as to what is happening. For the sake of cinema, neither do the couple. Great, great film.

Being There

Directed by Hal Ashby, Being There should have been Peter Sellers’ swansong as an actor. With all due respect to The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, I would have preferred if one of the greatest comedians of cinema went out on a strangely quiet note. Sellers plays Chauncey Gardiner, a middle-aged gardener whose life so far has entirely happened in front of a television set and within the vicinities of his benefactor’s luxurious townhouse. When his employer passes away, he is “forced to leave the sheltered existence and discover the outside world for the first time”. In one particular scene, a street gang pulls a knife on Sellers’ character and threatens him with violence. He sighs, calmly brings out his TV remote and tries changing the channel. The consequences are sometimes funny, often sad, but almost always dwarfed by Gardiner’s constant struggle to evaluate how much control he has on his own realities.

In 1977, Peter Sellers appeared in an episode of The Muppets Show. When Kermit the Frog asked him to “be himself”, Sellers looked coyly at the green fellow and said, “there is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.” There is indeed no evidence of the Peter Sellers that we have known and loved. There is only a strangely, disquieting film that is just there. And one of cinema’s finest sons adds to the aura by also just being there.

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