Audition (1999)

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7 years after his wife’s death, middle-aged businessman Aoyama is told by his son, Shigehiko, that he looks old, and should start dating again. Distraught, Aoyama goes to his friend, Yoshikawa, for advice, and Yoshikawa, believing that the current dating scene is too complex for Aoyama to navigate, devises a scheme to get his pal laid. This involves Yoshikawa, who is a film producer, setting up a phony audition wherein young women will come in and try out for the “part” of Aoyama’s wife. They won’t know what’s going on, and Aoyama can pick whichever one meets all of his criteria. In so doing, Aoyama comes across Asami, a shy, but well-spoken former ballerina whose apparent emotional depth is fascinating to him. As he grows closer to her, however, he starts to uncover some disturbing facts about her past, and realizes that maybe she’s not who she says she is.
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Underrated Directors Who Should Totally Helm A Blockbuster

Film-Directing

Directors; to many casual film goers, they are the driving force behind all aspects of a movie. And while those of us who actually work in film, writing scripts, editing footage, mixing sound and so on, know that this isn’t true, it is true that directors can have a huge influence on a picture’s look, tone, and style. And that look and style can attract audiences, and make the pictures better as a whole. Now there are certain directors whose look and style have become well known to the public–the Spielbergs, the Burtons, the Tarantinos–but there are others whose talent is clear when you watch their films but, for whatever reason, they and their work have remained out of the spotlight. I’d like to remedy that today. Here is my list of awesome, underrated directors who should totally helm a blockbuster. Why a blockbuster? Because that’s what most people see, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s the only way most of us will ever hear about these artists. Continue reading

Blade Of The Immortal (2017)

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When her parents are slaughtered by a ruthless group of swordsmen, teenaged Rin seeks out a ronin named Manji, who, rumor has it, cannot be killed. This gossip turns out to be true, as we see Manji being able to recover from what should be fatal injuries, including several instances where he re-attaches severed limbs to his body. Manji is reluctant to help her at first, knowing, all too well, what the price of vengeance is, but eventually agrees, seeing in Rin a shot at redemption. So the two set out in search of the wicked swordsmen, and what follows is 151 minutes of spraying blood and flashing steel. Continue reading

Top Directors Self-Respecting Actresses Should NOT Work With

Greetings loved ones. Liu is the name, and views are my game.

No one ever said that being an actor was easy. You’re constantly facing rejection, and your whole career can crumble in less than a minute. But, sometimes, even when you’ve got steady work, even when you’re on the set of a big budget movie with top tier talent, things can be difficult. Especially if you’re a woman. Directors can be verbally, or even physically, abusive, and the things you get asked to do can be extremely degrading. That is why I’ve decided to create a list for all you self-respecting actresses out there of the top directors you do NOT want to work with. Now, just to be clear, these are not being placed in any kind of order, and I’m not trying to say that these men are untalented, or that your careers wouldn’t be helped by working with them. I’m saying, if you want to be treated with respect on set, if you want to play complex, multi-faceted individuals who aren’t just victims or eye candy, these are not the people to audition for.

Michael Bay.

Transformers, The Rock, Pearl Harbor.

One of the most financially successful directors of all time, Michael Bay has made enemies with many, many groups over the years. These include film critics, the NAACP, and, of course, women. From the beginning of his career, Bay has been trashed for objectifying and degrading members of the fairer sex, and for good reason. Known for including unnecessarily long shots of women’s breasts, backsides and legs in his movies, Bay also makes a habit of mocking those who aren’t physically perfect, as he does in Pain and Gain and the Transformers film series. He’s even worse when it comes to representing women of color, who are often reduced to racial stereotypes. And the female characters in question are either dumb sluts, like Bar Paly in Pain and Gain, weepy, needy girlfriends, like Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbor, or eye candy, like Megan Fox in the Transformers film series. Bay is also known to be aggressive and uncompromising, being rude to both cast and crew members. A friend of mine actually worked as a PA on his film Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and told me stories about how mean he was. Bottom line is, Bay is not a good director to work with if you’re a woman. If you’re attractive, he’ll objectify you. If you’re not white, he’ll turn you into a racial cliche. And if you’re just a crew member, he’ll shout at, and bully you.

Eli Roth.

Hostel, Cabin Fever, Knock, Knock.

Perhaps best known for playing “The Bear Jew” in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, writer/director Eli Roth is widely credited with creating the “gorno” or “torture porn” sub genre of horror. But beyond simply spraying blood across the frames, Eli Roth is well-known for reducing women to their bodies. Seriously. All his films, Hostel, Cabin Fever, Knock, Knock, The Green Inferno, include sex and nudity, and the women getting naked are never really given any personality. Well, that’s not true. Most of the time, as in Hostel and Knock, Knock, the women turn out to be evil psychopaths who want to do harm to the male heroes. And if they aren’t that, they usually wind up being incredibly shallow, as in Hostel, where the only good female character decides she’d rather die than go in living disfigured. Roth might be the future of horror to some, but to women, he’s an absolute nightmare.

Takashi Miike.

Audition, Ichi The Killer, 13 Assassins.

With over 90 film and TV credits to his name, Takashi Miike has established himself as one of Japan’s most prolific directors. As well as one of its most controversial. For while Miike has made movies in a variety of genres, including family films, The Great Yokai War, road movies, The Bird People in China, and musicals, The Happiness of the Katakuris, he is best known for directing extremely violent, extremely bizarre horror and crime films. Pictures like Audition, Ichi The Killer, Visitor Q, and his black society trilogy, Shinjuku Triad Society, Rainy Dog, and Ley Lines, are infamous for including shocking scenes of high impact violence and sexual perversion. Rape, torture, necrophilia, slicing people in half from head to groin, these are but a few of the many cruelties Mike has show off in his work. And while he’s not above having men get maned and skewered, Miike’s bloody gaze does seem hyper focused on women. His film Ichi The Killer, for instance, begins with a prostitute getting violently beaten and raped. And this is not the only film of his to start in such a way. Ley Lines, which, for the most part, is pretty tame, includes several scenes, which don’t contribute to the movie’s overall narrative, that show the film’s female lead getting beaten by her pimp, beaten by her customers, and being tied up and tortured in a weird, non consensual BDSM scenario. Add to this the fact that almost all his female characters are either prostitutes or strippers, and the fact that one of his most famous movies, Audition, is all about sexist men holding fake auditions to find girls to bang, and you’ve got a laundry list of reasons why self-respecting actresses shouldn’t work with him.

Lars Von Trier.

Nymphomaniac, Melancholia, Antichrist.

A founding member of the Dogma 95 movement, Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier has seen more than his fair share of criticism over the years. For while many have found his movies’ examinations of depression, love, and sex both deep and refreshing, many more have taken issue with these pictures misogynistic content. Many of his early films, The Element of Crime, Europa, are about idealistic men being brought down by deceitful, fatal women, while several of his later pictures, Breaking The Waves, Dogville, Nymphomaniac, include very graphic, very violent rape scenes. And that’s not even getting into the general violence towards women his films exhibit, such as one scene in antichrist where the female lead cuts off her clitoris. There’s even a scene in this same movie where the character looks straight at the camera and says, “all women are evil.” Yikes. And as if this weren’t bad enough, Von Trier is notorious for mistreating his leading ladies, most notably Bjork , who starred in his movie Dancer in the Dark, and who was so upset by him that she wouldn’t speak to him for weeks. If that doesn’t convince you to not work with him, I don’t know what will.

Takashi Ishii.

Gonin, Freeze Me, Hello, My Dolly Girlfriend.

If you’ve never heard of this notorious director and manga artist before, that’s hardly surprising. He’s not nearly as successful as someone like Michael Bay, nowhere close to being as acclaimed as someone like Lars Von Trier, or even half as prolific, and varied in his work, as someone like Takeshi Miike. Why then am I including him on this list? Simple. Literally all his films include the rape, or repeated rape, of a woman. Let that knowledge sink in. Every single one of his films–several of which he also wrote–have rape scenes in them. Sometimes multiple rape scenes. He actually created a manga series, which was later adapted into a movie franchise, called Angel Guts, which is literally just about rape. This man shouldn’t be making movies. He should be in prison. Because it’s bad enough for him to be including rape in films at all, but to add insult to injury , he often shows the women enjoying the rape, and even falling in love with their rapists, like in his movie Original Sin. There’s also a ton of creepy, downright uncomfortable stuff in his films, like his movie Hello, My Dolly Girlfriend. It’s about this office rat who gets fired from his job, and so he assaults a stripper, insults a lesbian couple, who chase him into a nearby clothing store, where, after he witnesses them get raped and murdered by some criminals hiding behind the clothes racks, he finds and molests a manikin. This whole film is beyond exploitative. It’s beyond demeaning. If you have any respect for yourself as an artist, avoid this man like the plague.

Abdellatif Kechiche.

Blue Is The Warmest Color.

Much like Lars Von Trier, French director Abdelatif Kechiche has garnered great acclaim for his cinematic explorations of love and loss. And also like Von Trier, he has attracted a fair bit of criticism for his mistreatment of cast and crew members, and his overall representation of women. Several technicians on his 2013 film Blue Is The Warmest Color accused him of harassment, unpaid overtime and violations of labour laws. Likewise, the two main actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, also complained about Kechiche’s behavior during the shooting. None of this was helped by the fact that, apparently, in one interview about the film, Kechiche said he filmed the actresses “like they were statues.” Ooh. Never a good sentence to utter. Kechiche might be talented, and you might win awards if you work with him, but all the awards in the world can’t make up for unpaid overtime and sexual harassment, both of which you’re bound to encounter on his films.

What A Bloody Mess Part 2: Takashi Miike’s Ichi The Killer

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There are some movies out there that are so vile, so depraved, so unspeakably awful, that they actually transcend the realm of bad taste and, in the eyes of certain critics, become worth watching. No, I’m not talking about Flowers Of Flesh And Blood or The Human Centipede: Full Sequence. I’m referring to films such as Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and, of course, Takashi Miike’s Ichi The Killer. These movies not only sickened audiences to the point of vomiting, walking out and, in the case of Ichi The Killer, unconsciousness, they also got people praising their directors’ “artistic vision” and critics raving about their “social, cultural and political relevance.” Why? Well, at one point in the not to distant past, I would have said, “I have no idea,” or else, “as a means of self-defense.” I used to think that critics and cinephiles made cult classics out of these movies because they just didn’t want to believe that someone would put the time, money, and dare I say, effort, into making something so profoundly twisted. Now, however, I’m not so sure I can stand by that previous assertion. Yes, these movies are disgusting in every sense of the word, but the fact remains, some of these films were actually made with a specific social and/or political agenda in mind. A Clockwork Orange, for example, is a story about freedom, the freedom to do and think as we please, and how society strives to limit that freedom by forcing us all to conform to a certain standard of behavior. As for the others, they might not necessarily have been made with a specific message in mind, but they are just vague, and over the top enough, to have the potential to be profound. Case and point; Ichi The Killer. Continue reading

My Fifteen Favorite Underrated Films.

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You ever come across a movie that you just loved, but no one else around you seemed to like or understand? I have, and on multiple occasions. So many times, in fact, that I’ve decided to compile a list of my fifteen favorite underrated films. Why fifteen? Because I like to give 150%. Anyway, my hope is that, by sharing the names of these pictures with the readers of my blog, I’ll be able to expose more people to their brilliance, and subsequently aid the talented artists who made them. Just to be clear, when I say “underrated” I’m referring to a well-acted, well-written, and well-produced film that, for whatever reason, was either critically or financially unsuccessful at the time of its release. It can have a large or small budget, be directed by a Hollywood A-lister, or an obscure Art House Intellectual. All it has to be is a good movie that wasn’t appreciated when it first came out. But, why waste any more time telling you about these pictures? Let me show them to you! Here are my fifteen favorite underrated films!

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Gozu, or Salvador Dali’s Trip Through Shinto Hell.

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

It’s funny how, sometimes, it’s the most obvious aspects of our personalities that have to be pointed out. For some of us, this anomaly comes in the form of discovering strange little quirks, like arranging the food on our plate in a certain way, that we never knew we had. For me, it came in the realization that I absolutely adore strange stories. Now when I say “strange stories,” I’m referring to imaginative books or films with slow-paced, intricate plots, and vivid, dream-like images. Such stories often take unexpected turns into the realm of the surreal or fantastic, usually with little to no explanations why. Books that might fall into this category include The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami, One Hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Trial by Franz Kafka. Films that fit this classification include Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and just about every picture produced by David Lynch.

 

Anyway, I came to the realization that I have an almost insatiable appetite for the absurd while waiting for Takashi Miike’s Gozu to arrive in the mail. Gozu, which literally means “Cow’s Head,” is a 2003 cult film from one of Japan’s most infamous directors. Nearly every review I’d read described it as, hands down, the absolute weirdest, most surreal piece of work put to the screen. This, of course, caught my attention, and so naturally I placed it at the top of my Netflix queue. It was while I was waiting for that lovely red envelope to appear in my mailbox that I realized something. This was, without question, the most excited I’d been to see a movie in a long time. This got me thinking. Did I like weird movies more than regular ones? No, I told myself, of course not. It was not the strangeness of the picture that had attracted my interest. It was the fact that the movie was directed by Takashi Miike, the man who brought the world such masterpieces as 13 Assassins and Hara Kiri: The Death of a Samurai. Still, as time passed, I started to notice certain details that flat out contradicted my denials. Some of my absolute favorite movies–The Big Lebowski, Life of Pi, and The Triplets of Belleville–are pretty darn weird. In addition, four of the movies that I’d reviewed on my blog–Dead Man, Oldboy, Valhalla Rising, and The Crying Game–were extremely strange. Faced with all this cold, hard evidence, I decided there was no point in lying to myself any longer. I loved weird movies, and that was why I ordered Gozu. Having finally accepted this part of myself, I was able to view the picture with no inhibitions.

 

Now some of you might be thinking, “Alright, so you had no inhibitions while watching it, but did you actually like it? Was it any good?” Yes and yes. In addition to being highly entertaining, Gozu was just as weird as everyone described, if not more so. It had unique, effective cinematography, extremely creative characters, and an eerie soundtrack that leant itself well to the story. Watching it was like seeing a René Magritte painting get turned into film. Yet despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this picture, I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. It’s over two hours long, meandering in some places, and flat out disgusting in others. Also, I’ve learned over time that most people don’t share my love of foreign films so, for all you out there who hate having to read subtitles, this movie’s definitely not for you. But, all weaknesses aside, Gozu is still a highly unique work of art that should garner more attention from analytical movie-goers. That’s actually what I intend to convince people of in today’s analysis. However, before I can do that, I feel like I should explain a few details to those readers who are unfamiliar with the director and genre.

 

First of all, the man who made this movie, Takashi Miike, is someone who  recently made his way to the top of my favorite filmmakers list. You’ve probably never heard of him but, with more than 50 pictures to his name, he is one of contemporary Japan’s most prolific directors. He is also one of the most controversial. Miike has often been described as the Japanese equivalent to Quentin Tarantino. I suppose it’s a valid comparison. Both directors have garnered international notoriety for depicting shocking scenes of extreme violence and sexual perversion. In addition to this, both men are famous for their black sense of humor and for focusing on the activities of criminals and minority peoples in their films. Beyond these few features, however, one simply cannot compare the two. See, where Tarantino is sort of a one trick pony, only making strange, ultra-violent movies, Miike has expanded his repertoire into a wide variety of genres, including period pieces, family comedies, musicals, dramas, and horror. I was actually introduced to him through 13 Assassins, one of his more innocuous, mainstream movies, and have yet to see his most controversial projects–Ichi the Killer and Visitor Q.

 

What I like about Miike is that, while he’s as showy and over the top as directors like Tarantino and Baz Luhrman, he’s also very subtle and profound. Many of his films, such as the horror classic Audition and the crime drama Ley Lines, deal with difficult and controversial issues, including the sexism and xenophobia that are all too present in contemporary Japanese society. That’s part of the reason why I was interested when I heard about Gozu. I wanted to see what new message Miike was trying to get across. Everyone had told me that Gozu was strange, and I figured he’d made it that way deliberately in order to get some political or social agenda through to the audience. Then again, it’s equally likely that he’d made a weird movie simply because he wanted to make one. There’s a whole genre of films out there that exist simply to poke fun at the notion that stories have to have a meaning. Almost none of the pictures that the Coen Brothers do make any sense, and the  black comedy Rubber  even advertised itself as an “homage to the element of nonsense that exists in every story.” But, I’ve kept you all waiting long enough. Let’s begin today’s analysis of the beautifully bizarre breakthrough that is Gozu.

 

Concerning plot; If you thought movies like Mementos, Mullholland Drive or Donnie Darko were confusing, you probably aren’t prepared for the picture I’m about to describe to you. What it is, in essence, is the story of a low level criminal trying to find the body of a man he accidentally killed, but in reality, it’s so much more than that.

 

The film starts in a restaurant where a group of Yakuza (Japanese mobsters) have gathered for a meeting. One of them, a man named Ozaki, appears to have lost his grip on reality. He takes his boss aside and directs his attention to a young couple standing outside the restaurant.  The two have this tiny little chihuahua type dog with them, and Ozaki insists that it is, in fact, a creature that has been trained specifically to kill Yakuza “made men.” He then proceeds to go outside and smash the poor little thing against every conceivable surface until, at last, there’s nothing left except a bloody mass of fur.

 

Recognizing that Ozaki has completely lost his marbles,  the boss orders him killed. He tells Minami, a Yakuza underling, to take Ozaki to a dump in Nagoya to be disposed of. However, before they can get there, Minami crashes his car. This causes Ozaki to bang his head and, apparently, go cold and stiff. While obviously shocked at having just killed someone, Minami is nevertheless relieved that Ozaki went out in a relatively quick and painless manner. Deciding that he should tell his boss, he pulls over to use a pay phone. When he turns around, however, he discovers that Ozaki, who was dead only moments ago, has vanished. Terrified and confused, Minami searches all over the city for signs of the missing corpse, but to no avail. He eventually stumbles across the dump where he was supposed to bring Ozaki, and asks the gangsters there for help. They agree, and offer to put him in an inn for the night.

 

The inn they end up choosing is run by an elderly brother and sister, who are just about the creepiest, most socially awkward people imaginable. Don’t believe me? Well then, why don’t I show you what we’re dealing with here. While Minami is taking a bath, the sister comes in and offers him some breast milk. Now remember, this woman is at least sixty years old, so its anyone’s guess how she still manages to lactate. When Minami refuses her offer, screaming, “No! I don’t want any milk!” she sighs and says, “A lot of our customers have been saying that lately,” before getting up and leaving.

 

The next morning, Minami gets the hell out of there and goes to a diner run by three transvestites. Why he would find this establishment any less weird than the place he just came from beats me but, to be honest, you learn to stop questioning this movie after a while. Anyway, while he’s there, he meets a person who claims to have seen Ozaki. He follows their directions, which take him all over Nagoya before bringing him back to the inn from earlier. Apparently, a man matching Ozaki’s description rented a room the night before, and the creepy brother and sister just neglected to tell him. Minami asks to stay in Ozaki’s room, and the innkeepers agree. That night, a minotaur (yes folks, I did just say minotaur) comes to visit Minami and offers him some red beans and rice. No explanation is ever given as to why this vignette was included or what it means but, like I said, you learn to stop questioning things after a while. The next morning, Minami awakens to find a note by his futon. This letter, apparently written by Ozaki, instructs him to go to the dump where the boss ordered him to dispose of the corpse. When he gets there, however, its only to learn that Ozaki’s body was pressed the day before. The mobsters there even show him the flattened corpse, which they keep hanging on a coat wrack wrapped in plastic like in a dry cleaners. This leaves Minami crushed (no pun intended) and confused.

 

However, before he gets a chance to ask the time of day, he gets hit with another curve ball–a rather curvaceous and attractive curve ball played by gravure idol Kimiko Yoshino. A mysterious woman appears in the back seat of his car and claims to be Ozaki. When he scoffs at her odd assertion, she proves to him that she is telling the truth by repeating, word for word, a dialogue that the two of them had earlier in the film. Confused at this turn of events, but deciding to go along with it, Minami takes the female Ozaki with him back to Tokyo. However, when he presents her to the other mobsters, his intention being to explain that the bombshell he has with him is, in fact, their brother in crime, his boss becomes besotted with her and doesn’t give minami the chance to speak. He chats her up a bit and then spirits her back to his apartment for some perverted sex. How do I know that its perverted sex? Well, in order to get a hard on, he has to shove a metal spoon up his ass. Yes. I did just say that. If you value your sanity, you won’t feel the need to read that sentence again. Anyway, Minami realizes that his boss is really going to do the nasty to Ozaki, so he decides to save her/him in one of the most over-the-top and, in my opinion, unintentionally funny manners possible–by swinging through the window on a rope like Tarzan. He kills his boss by touching the tip of the spoon with a caddle prod, don’t ask me where he got one of those, and takes Ozaki back to his place. There, the two have sex, which for some reason causes the woman to give birth to the original Ozaki. Now, when I say, “give birth,” I don’t mean to a baby. I mean the full-grown, fully-clothed man from earlier in the film comes out. And that’s not even the weirdest part. After the birth scene, we cut to a shot of the Tokyo skyline. Minami explains in a voice-over how, “we put the girl in the tub and she went right back to normal.” We then get a shot of the female Ozaki, alarmingly calm and composed considering what just happened, sitting in a bubble bath brushing her teeth. And if you think that’s odd, wait till you hear this. The scene right after this shows Minami, Ozaki and the female Ozaki walking arm in arm down the street. And you know what happens next? Nothing! The movie just ends there.

 

Now if, at this point, you’re thinking something along the lines of, “what the fuck?” don’t worry, that was my initial reaction too. As you can see, Gozu is a really, really, really weird film, arguably the weirdest that I’ve ever seen. Now to some people, the weirdness of this story exists solely to confuse and entertain the audience, and while I can see the validity of this argument,  I’m not sure I agree with it. Yes, the twists are highly amusing, but I do think that Miike had something larger in mind when he added them. What that something was, I don’t know, but I do have a theory.

 

To me, Gozu is a cinematic exploration of sexuality confusion, with elements of Greek mythology thrown in. How, you might ask, could I possibly come up with such an assertion? Well, in terms of it being mythological, the film manages to artfully weave several aspects of the old legends into the plot. Like Perseus, Minami encounters a minotaur on his journey, and like the blind prophet, Tiresias, Ozaki undergoes several transformations, changing from a man to a woman to a man again.

 

As for the “sexuality confuseon” claim, the clues are everywhere, if not altogether obvious. Sexual imagery is present in almost every frame,  particularly phallic symbols. Numerous characters, including Ozaki and the creepy female inn-keeper, comment on the size of Minami’s penis. When the gangsters at the dump show Minami Ozaki’s flattened corpse, Minami’s gaze is shown lingering on Ozaki’s junk. What all this indicates to me is that Minami is actually gay, most likely for Ozaki, but not comfortable enough with the fact to share it with anyone. This constant pressure to hide his secret, coupled with a sense of guilt at having to kill a man he’s attracted to, has caused Minami so much stress that he’s starting to hallucinate. How else might one explain the bat-shit insanity unfolding all about him? Now I realize that this whole idea might sound totally bogus to some of you but, if you think about it, it makes sense. Minami appears to have very strong feelings for Ozaki, and ones that go beyond simple admiration. When Minami receives the order to kill Ozaki, he becomes incredibly nervous and antsy–more so than one might feel if they were simply unfamiliar with killling. Then, when Ozaki disappears, Minami becomes frantic and spends the rest of the film trying to find him. When he does so, he doesn’t kill him, as he’s been ordered to do. Rather, he welcomes him with relief, and does everything in his power to protect him, even going so far as to kill his boss. The final bit of proof can be found in the sex scene between Minami and the female Ozaki. Minami knows that this woman is actually a man, but decides to have sex with her anyway. Why? Because he, a closeted gay man, has found an outlet through which to satisfy his needs, and in a manner that, on the surface, conforms with societies standards of acceptable behavior. The birth scene that follows symbolizes Minami’s full acceptance of his sexuality.  He, like the male Ozaki, is coming out into the open.

 

So what, in the end, does all this sexual and mythological nonsense add up to? What’s the movie trying to get across? Well, in my opinion, it’s Takashi Miike’s method of subtly criticizing homophobia and society’s narrow perceptions of gender. That’s certainly the most provable reading to have. All the right images, motifs and plot elements are at your disposal but, truth be told, its equally likely that this movie has no meaning whatsoever. And in a strange way, that’s what so great about it. In addition to being an extremely enjoyable sojourn into insanity, Gozu is just specific enough in its content to be seen as more than simple psychedelic entertainment. It dares you to believe that there’s something more to it, that there’s a hidden message tucked between the wide shots. And at the same time, its not annoyingly didactic either. You don’t come out of it choking on a processed moral like you might with Wall Street or Blood Diamond. Rather, your left with a sense of wonder and confusion. “That was really weird,” you might say to yourself. “And you know what, I think it was trying to tell me something.”

 

And that, dear friends, is why Takashi Miike’s Gozu should be at the top of more movie-goers “must see” lists. Thank you all so much for staying with me for this long. This is Nathan Liu, signing off.