Saturday, February 02, 2013

Battle Royale: Vancouver Theatrical Screening!

Here's a surprise: unless Cinema Clock is wildly wrong, Kinji Fukasaku's cult hit Battle Royale - an alternately bloody and sentimental warning to the youth of Japan, issued by one of Japanese cinema's premier shit-disturbers - is screening this week at Vancouver's Scotiabank cinemas, this Monday (at 7) and Tuesday (at 12)! There's a host of older films playing Scotiabank - also including the grim Korean revenge film Oldboy - but Battle Royale is singularly special event, since American distributors have been terrified by it (and its images of teenagers killing teenagers) for over a decade: though it was released in Japan in 2000, it only got an official North American DVD release, courtesy of Anchor Bay, around the time that the first Hunger Games film came out (a series which I *don't* think plagiarises Battle Royale, as some have claimed, but which definitely belongs in the same subgenre). Even in Japan, there was an enormous fuss prior to its release, including a special government preview of the film to see if it merited being suppressed. Though it does have moments of bloodshed, the film is neither that violent nor that disturbing; it's mostly supremely pissed-off at the betrayal of youth by the older generation. Obviously Fukasaku likes his young characters, bemoans the fact that they are caught up in a "game" where all stand to lose, and is rooting for them to find a way out. The film has inspired some singularly chickenshit reactions, but unless you are completely unable, regardless of context, to handle the odd bit of arterial spray, it's simply not that horrifying; if you have any interest in dystopian visions, cult movies, or jaundiced takes on contemporary Japanese culture, you should attend, by all means. Chances to see this film on the big screen are few and far between, especially in North America (my respect goes out to the brave folks who programmed it - they're either blissfully unaware of the fuss that has attended this film's history or else... they've actually seen it and appraised it for themselves!).

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