rachelmanija: (Default)
( Aug. 14th, 2004 09:18 am)
I saw Takashi Miike's GOZU last night. Um...

I think TK is probably the only person reading this journal who I would even consider recommending the moview to, and she saw it with me, so..

Um...

That was the weirdest movie I've ever seen. It starts out as a surrealist yakuza movie, becomes a surrealist movie in the genre of "city guy gets stuck in the boonies where he has to interact with a succession of insane eccentric hicks," and ends in a flurry of bizarreness, grossness, and surrealism that I can't put in any genre category but "extreme cinema."

So there's this yakuza group. One guy, Ozaki, seems to have succumbed to extreme paranoia and imagines that a chihuahua is an anti-yakuza attack dog. Or maybe he's just pretending to prove that he's scarier than any of them. Either way, the boss won't stand for it and asks a younger member, Minami, to take him to a dump out in the boonies and whack him. This goes wrong.

Now, I know that except for the chihuahua this sounds like the standard set-up for a gangster film, but its bizarre avant-gardeness is actually established right from the beginning shots which linger meaninglessly on a fuzzy TV for way too long. Anyway, things go wrong, and Minami (whose name may or may not mean "south," depending on the kanji; I hit a point where I was grasping for straws of meaning) gets stuck in the freakish town near the dump.

Unbelievably incredibly whacked-out stuff happens, a lot of which is very funny and much of which plays on Minami's discomfort about sex. (Although anyone would be discombobbled if a middle-aged innkeeper suddenly began lactating until she flooded the inn.) Most of the movie is perversely riveting, until the third part, where it starts to feel long and also has such gross scenes that I had my eyes closed as much as possible for several scenes.

Gozu means "cow head." There's a sequence which may or may not be a dream in which Minami is visited by a minotaur. There is a Japanese cow-headed demon called "Gozu," I learned from a review. Also, a beautiful woman's vagina calls Minami "Gozu" before going back to babbling nonsense syllables.

I think the movie is about male sexual anxiety, the male fear of the female body, homoerotic themes in yakuza movies as sublimated into "buddy" relationships, Japanese sexual repression and expression, and the desire of Miike and the screenwriter, Sato, to make the weirdest fucking movie ever made and totally blow the audience's minds.
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