Bara no sôretsu (1969)

a.k.a Funeral Parade of Roses

An electrifying journey into the nether-regions of the late-’60s Tokyo underworld.

Siskoid

With his debut, Funeral Parade of Roses, director Toshio Matsumoto was intent on breaking all the rules. Those of the censors, of cinematic formalism, of society itself. Even before he puts Oedipal stuff in there, this exploration of the gay and trans subculture in Tokyo is already pretty avant-garde. And then he keeps switching genres on us, inserting sped-up comedy, or grand gignol, or flashes of absolute art house, or pulling out of the narrative to interview the actors about their roles (they are all gay, or trans, or sex workers, essentially playing themselves). Formally, he makes use of mixed media, editing in elements of contemporary art, magazine-style photography, and photonovels. Chronologically, the film doubles back on itself several times, so that it's not clear what's a flashback (except for the genesis of gorgeous glam queen Eddie's persona) and what's a flash-forward. Alternating between docudrama, subversive comedy, objet d'art, and horror show, Funeral Parade of Roses is an at-times oblique but loving exploration of identity, body dysmorphia, and a culture that didn't yet know how to talk about itself. Kubrick fans, take note: This was apparently a big influence on A Clockwork Orange.

a year ago

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