November 19th, 2006


Forest gets funky

My first contact with film director Katsuhito Ishii was seeing The Taste of Tea at the New York Asian Film Festival in 2005. I loved it, and when I watched it again last night on DVD I laughed all over again at Tatsuya Gashuin's hair and all the crazy non sequitur joke sequences, like the bit where a kid shits on a skull in a forest and is then haunted by a yakuza-like zombie with a curly turd on his head. It seems these incidental, zany details were also what pleased the director the most, because his follow-up, 2005's Funky Forest: First Contact dispenses with plot altogether.

I haven't seen Funky Forest: First Contact yet, just glimpsed trailers. But it's got some of the most breathlessly, gushingly perplexed reviews I've ever seen. Here, extracted from some of them, are descriptions of things you can see in this film:

* The girl in the after school club whose 'sport' involves using a badminton racquet to swat at the milk squirted towards her by a shy fellow with foot-long nipples, after which he starts pulling bloodsucking creatures out of his pants and tossing them at her. (Twitch)

* TVs made of giant buttholes, powered by belly button energy and capable of producing miniature sushi chefs. (Subway cinema)

* The worst comedy duo ever, all dressed in white like sperm at a formal dance.

* Three brothers who are very unpopular with women: Guitar Brother, an amalgam of every loser you ever met who writes sensitive songs for his acoustic guitar, his even lamer brother, who mimics Noh masks in his spare time, and a white kid who loves Snickers.

* The Hot Springs Vixens, who tell the most pointless stories in a Rakugo-flavored Japanese so funny that even non-speakers should be able to appreciate the rhythm and flow of it.

* Shoe obsession... and a firm belief that the secrets of the universe can be unlocked by dancing. (Cinema Strikes Back)

If you fancy seeing this in a cinema in the West, don't hold your breath. Despite winning the Audience Prize at the 2005 New York Asian Film Festival, The Taste of Tea never found a US release. Thank Santa for DVD.