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Shion Sono, one of Japan's contemporary cult directors, makes a follow-up to cinephile hits like Suicide Club, Noriko's Dinner Table, Strange Circus, Hair Extensions, Love Exposure, Coldfish and Himizu. After The Land of Hope, his idiosyncratic sci-fi drama shot around the Fukushima disaster, the transgressive Sono makes another instant cult hit with Why Don't You Play in Hell? This definitely won't appeal to a mainstream audience and to be honest, at first I had quite some difficulties watching it myself. It all seems a bit over the top and because of that it felt amateuristic. On the other hand I suppose this is the authentic style Sono is known for. With some patience I endured the first half an hour. Once I got familiar with its peculiarities, irony, meta-references and subversive character, this film started to grow on me. Especially the part of the young movie team that has been procrastinating their film project for years; while this is more of a sideline to the story, Why Don't You Play in Hell? depends on it for its absurd climax. The only thing I couldn't get into was the over-the-top acting. Cool movie with a high DIY vibe, although not flawless.
Damn, I don't think I have seen a movie as funny as this since.. well… Shion Sono's Cold Fish, and I really can't remember the last time I actually laughed out loud this much whilst watching a film. I don't know a better way to put this, it is just an absolutely entertaining, demented and absurd joyride. Yes, some moments are weaker than others and definitely stupid but they are nothing that would diminish the hilarious moments which manage to be both brash and sometimes subtle at the same time.
The spoofs on modern cinema (with yakuza and chanbara getting a special treatment), along with nice meta and self-awareness pleased me greatly. Even the copious and deliberate use of absolutely abhorrent VFX was so ridiculously stupid. There is a slight serious undertone to the film, but I didn't delve too deep into it.
One thing that upsets me when reading about this film, is that many reviewers accuse this film (and Sono) of being a Tarantino knockoff when that feet-sucking troglodyte, in fact, is one of the biggest knockoffs in the history of cinema. Both men probably respect each other and exchange personal pictures of fecal matter so I find that kind of commentary pointless.
Don't forget Ken Takakura!
embrace the bizarreness of it all
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Currently in 2 official lists, but has been in 3