Gakuryū Ishii's hourlong, warp-speed clash of pseudo-superheroes is still deafeningly good fun after twenty years
Twenty years later, Gakuryū Ishii's revisionist samurai legend still dazzles and jolts like few other movies of its kind
Why transmute Ozamu Dazai's 'No Longer Human' into medico-punk science fiction? Good question
For decades Edogawa Rampo spellbound Japan with his stories of mystery and horror, a mixture of his English-language namesake (Edgar Allan Poe) and the "erotic-grotesque-nonsense" aesthetic that came to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. And for decades Shinya Tsukamoto has been spellbinding audiences throughout Japan and the rest of the world with his movies riddled with much of the same dread and fleshly torment. With Gemini, Tsukamoto used one of Rampo's stories as the point of departure for one of his best films, one that starts with Rampo's psychological phantasmagora and moves out from there into more modern and ambitious territory.
A virus, I imagine, feels no sense of animosity; it's just trying to fulfill its biological mission, as recent events would attest. A white blood cell feels no patriotism to the body it defends, either -- well, Cells At Work! argued otherwise, but you get the idea. Each only arises because the other exists, and outside of that they are selfless. In the words of William S. Burroughs's Nova Police, "We do our work and go." Nothing personal. The best way I can describe the Boogiepop franchise is that it's the adventures of such an emergent phenomenon. If the karmic forces of the universe had a face and a voice, what would they look and sound like? And would they ever come to think of the rest of us as anything worth bothering with?
Stories about obsessions are often hard to watch, and not only because many obsessions are destructive. Seen only from the outside, any obsession becomes silly: instead of sharing a mindset, we're just watching behavior. Shinya Tsukamoto's Bullet Ballet tries to get us into the head of someone obsessed with either revenge or suicide (or both at the same time), but it's constructed in a way that doesn't really pay off -- or, if the lack of payoff is the point, it's not delivered well. It's still ambitious and seething with energy in the way all Tsukamoto films are, and that alone makes it worth watching, if not re-watching. But once it's over, it doesn't leave much behind.