Thursday, January 26, 2006

New Shinya Tsukamoto, plus ramblings on Miike and Park ChanWook

...or new Tsukamoto Shinya, if you prefer: Vital is his newest feature, out as part of the Asian Exteme series (presumably) on Tartan. Tsukamoto is interested in ripping off the polite surfaces of Japanese society and seeing what chaos and violence lurk beneath; he's routinely compared to David Cronenberg, and does share areas of affinity -- the bodies erupting into machinery of war in the Tetsuo films have direct echoes in Videodrome -- but morally he has an ally in Miike Takashi, too (he appears in Ichi the Killer, the director's most notorious film); both filmmakers are intolerant of the hypocrisies and falsehoods of their society and go to extremes not to be polite in addressing them.

Anyone looking for intense and intelligent Asian cinema to rent might also productively take a peek at Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, also being widely distributed, directed by Korean auteur Park ChanWook. It's not quite as relentlessly grim or depressing as Oldboy -- its dark humour and sense of the absurd make it seem just a tad more forgiving -- and it's not the light-footed tour-de-force of the recent Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (which people in the know can find in Chinatown on DVD -- thus far the only way to see it in the city); but it's fascinating and satisfying and very original cinema no less.

I dreamed I had sex with a sheep the other night. Why? Weirder still: the sheep was on top.

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