10 February 2013 | mbs
very, very, VERY french new wave jean luc godard kind of film that somewhat successfully transfers the new wave style to japan
i saw as part of the museum of modern art's exhibition of Japanese new wave art films of the 60's, 70's, and 80's (films sponsored and produced by the Art Theater Guild--an independent production company that financed a lot of out there Japanese films that were trying to make a statement about life, art and the human condition) The films being shown in this series seemed to be the Japanese equivalent to the french new wave films of the 60's--films that wanted to shake off the mainstream ways of thinking about writing and directing and to try and create mad passionate and somewhat impulsive ways of creating and a new way for audiences to watch a film--basically they wanted to re-invent the wheel--and this film in particular seems like the very specific kind that jean luc Godard was running around making throughout the 60's. What separates this film i think is that much like some of Godard's more out there/in your face films--this one really seems to want to be more then just a narrative film with likable characters--it wants to be this kind of shouting look at what society's doing to us--we're the new generation here and we're slowly but surely being killed kind of film--complete with main character on screen running around shouting all kinds of beliefs and radical political statements to anyone within earshot--statements that are meant to be deep but are also kind of a show off "look what a radical kind of guy i can be" pose.
The movie's plot starts with this guy wandering around carrying a giant rolled up bundle that could be a body (he carries it with ease throughout the film suggesting that its probably not, but the fact that he's constantly talking to it makes you think maybe it is, or maybe he wants other people to think it is) its soon revealed that he's actually a thief and a mugger, but apparently not a very good one-- it isn't long until he's falsely accused of raping a woman selling carrots and after the police have him in custody they end up laughing at him when he admits to being a mugger--they basically don't believe he's any threat to anybody and he ends up being let go wherein he tries to start a protest about being locked up by a society that doesn't know what to do with a guy like him--and of course fails miserably at this too (he can't even sustain interest from the people he's paying to stand with him--the drummer who he keeps telling to drum after every one of his grand statements ends up walking out on said protest after its clear that no one is interested in what this guy has to say) outraged the guy ends up wandering around yet again wherein he ends up trying to mug a couple who refuse to be mugged--the guy is a deaf mute and does not understand that he's being mugged--his girlfriend just hauls off and beats up our lackluster hero. For some reason our lackluster hero decides to stick with these two--i think it had something to do with the fact that they're both also outcasts from normal society so he feels connected to the two of them and ends up hanging out and following them around for the rest of the film. The two end up revealing themselves as being criminals--criminals in love BTW whose make out sessions our lackluster hero finds himself the third wheel in---and basically the films ends up being a rather arty outlaws on the fringes of society kind of thing--except then the deaf-mute ends up disappearing and the lackluster hero tries to claim the girlfriend as his own which doesn't quite end up sticking when the deaf mute comes back--and they all end up being blinded, deafened, and most likely irradiated after they end up wandering into some test site where radioactive nuclear bomb testing is occurring.
What this all means i'm not entirely clear--self made outcasts of society ends up becoming mighty victims of the society they were victimizing when not outright shunning it in the first place??? The film in its many scenes of the three of them wandering around looking for places to crash with the lackluster hero jabbering about his beliefs about society and what he'd like to do to society and what he'd like to do to build a new society and so on is to me very reminiscent of one of Goddard's many Marxist anti-hero protagonists--these young guys who talk the talk about wanting to be a revolutionary and rebuilding society but really just want to get laid and live the high life they think a revolutionary would lead being all the rage in the 60's. As a narrative i didn't really think the film worked all that well if only because the film kind of lost me round the midway point--i really didn't quite understand why the main character or the bonnie and Clyde duo were hanging with each other when neither can stand the other as the movie goes on, but as a different cultural take on those french new wave films of the 60's (goaddard's--espcially something like "Masculine-Feminine") it was an interesting watch, and one that's certainly worth catching if (and really ONLY if) you're really into that kind of cinema. Indeed when it was over, the two guys sitting in back of me had the exchange where one was saying that he had little idea what the point of any of that was, and the other one replied eh its always good to hear jimmi hendrix in a movie tho--that's really as good a response to this movie as i could possibly think of in all honesty.