Archive for fujiko

VISITOR Q (2001) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by goregirl

Takashi Miike is one of Japan’s most interesting directors working today. More accurately, Miike is one of the most interesting directors working today in any country! Miike’s director list is huge, and I must admit that there are numerous titles I have yet to see. His body of work covers a variety of genres but generally speaking you can count on the inclusion of violence. Some of my favourite Miike titles I have seen thus far are Audition (1999), Ichi the Killer (2001), The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), Gozu (2003), Three… Extremes (Box segment) (2004), Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), 13 Assassins (2010), Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999) and the subject of this review; Visitor Q. Miike also did one of the best and nastiest Masters of Horror episodes; Imprint (2006). I have many Takashi Miike films still to see but I have enjoyed the man’s work enough to watch several of his titles multiple times.

I bought Visitor Q in Chinatown a bunch of years ago, and the DVD had no English option, but I watched it anyway. It left me glove-slapped and slack-jawed. If you have seen Visitor Q you’ll understand why and if you have not you are in for a head trip. I have now visited Visitor Q three times and it still messes me up. Visitor Q is definitely not a straight up horror film. It is more of a dysfunctional family drama with comedy, thriller, mystery and horror elements.

Visitor Q opens with a middle-aged man documenting the life of a teenage sex worker. The man proceeds to have sex with the teenager who we learn is actually his daughter. Visitor Q is a mysterious stranger who comes into this man’s life after bashing him on the head with a rock. Visitor Q comes to live with the family and changes their lives in various ways. As mentioned the film opens with a father paying his daughter for sex. At home a teenage son is beaten and bullied by a group of his peers and in frustration violently lashes out at his mother. Mother is covered in raw and painful-looking lash marks and limps from the beatings. Mother is a heroin addict who occasionally turns tricks to pay for her habit. In the end Visitor Q helps the family to re-connect and in their twisted way the family loves again as you will witness in the film’s sunshiny-disturbing final image.

While the family takes dysfunctional to new extremes they nonetheless represent a typical family unit at their core. A father going through a mid-life crisis, a mother running for the shelter of “mother’s little helper”, the teenage children estranged, distant and attempting to find their place in the world. A family unit we have seen in a dozen films before. Takashi Miike however shows the breakdown of the family unit in his own unique and twisted way.

Visitor Q himself reminded me a little of Coffin Joe. Coffin Joe is a character from Brazilian horror films portrayed by José Mojica Marins. Coffin Joe is an evil character who despises morality and religion. Coffin Joe taps in to people’s darkest desires and inspires them to embark on a path of sin and depravity. Visitor Q is a more public-friendly generic version of Coffin Joe but his goal is much the same. According to Wikipedia Visitor Q’s plot is similar to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema. Oddly enough I had borrowed Pasolini’s Medea from the library only a week ago. I have not seen Teorema so I can not comment on the similarities. I added Teorema to the library queue though so you’ll be reading a review soon. Visitor Q does in fact help the family find cohesion and happiness through their depraved acts. By the time the final credits role you will witness incest, necrophilia, violent death, copious body fluids and a family unit strengthened.

Visitor Q is done in a documentary style; which nicely complimented the dark material. The father is a television reporter whose current subject is today’s youth. He is, in fact acting as reporter in the opening scene where he has sex with his daughter. The film is stark and its flawed characters are exposed like an open wound. The voyeuristic nature of the film made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times. Miike balances these elements with humour, although it too, is of the warped variety. The actors and actresses in Visitor Q were called on to put themselves out there in a big way. The film is very well cast and everyone is perfect in their roles. Although I think Ken’ichi Endô and Shungiku Uchida who played the father and mother deserve special mention.

Visitor Q is an unclassifiable, joyfully warped curiosity. Visitor Q fascinates me, disgusts me, makes me laugh and even on a third viewing leaves me slack-jawed. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Takashi Miike

Starring: Ken’ichi Endô, Shungiku Uchida, Kazushi Watanabe, Jun Mutô, Fujiko, Shôko Nakahara, Ikko Suzuki

STRANGE CIRCUS (2005) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by goregirl

Strange Circus marks the fourth film I’ve seen from Japanese director Shion Sono. My Sono exposure thus far has led me to come to two conclusions; the man creates visually impressive films and he is obsessed with dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional sure seems like an understatement in Strange Circus. The films non-linear story revolves around the rape and abuse of a twelve-year-old girl. Mitsuko’s father hides her in a cello case forcing her to watch him fuck her mother. This eventually leads to dad repeatedly raping his daughter. If that isn’t traumatizing enough, her mother becomes intensely jealous and starts beating her regularly. School is simply a horrifying extension of Mitsuko’s shitty existence where her despicable pedophile father is also the institutions principle. And that is just the launching pad for this twisted tale.

Strange Circus is a highly visual film. The sets and props are fantastic. The imagery is endlessly impressive from a flower filled coffin ablaze to the burlesque style circus sideshow. The red painted walls of Mitsuko’s school hallways look freshly bloody and are particularly horrifying. Miksuko’s stark and sterile home is appropriately uninviting. There isn’t much in the way of graphic violence but what is included certainly is memorable. Strange Circus has its share of ugliness, distress, violence, and weirdness that messed with my eyes and my head!

Newer films rarely surprise me, so it seems worth mentioning when one does. The climax blind-sided me. I did not see it coming. I thought I more or less had things figured out and it turns out I didn’t know shit. Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t consider it. There is some clarity provided in the climax, but is also raises more questions. The film does have its lesser qualities. Strange Circus constantly jumps timelines and is often disorienting. The film drags a little through the middle and would have benefitted from tighter editing. Strange Circus is the type of film that will either frustrate or thrill.

Actress Matsumi Miyazaki plays two roles in Strange Circus and is outstanding. Miyazaki bares her soul and her clothing and gives a natural and believable performance. I had no beefs at all with any of the performances in Strange Circus. Strange Circus will probably appeal more to those who enjoy eclectic foreign fare. The mix of convoluted plot, artistic visuals, and a slower pace will not make this popular with the average horror viewer. Strange Circus is a visually arresting film that is a disturbing, violent and surreal experience. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Shion Sono

Starring: Masumi Miyazaki, Issei Ishida, Rie Kuwana, Mai Takahashi, Fujiko, Madamu Rejînu, Mame Yamada, Pyûpiru, Erika Mine, Keiko Yokomachi, Tsutomu Ihara, Emiko Yamada, Rinco, Sachiko Yamagishi, Ken Sasaki