GOZUARE THEY ALIVE, SPIRITS, DEMONS, OR WORSE? | Nov 9, 2003
Wow, incredible. I’m just gonna say right off the bat that if surreal is your dig, you’ll love this movie. If you’ve ever pondered mortality, take a test-run. You’ll hop into anti-hero Minami’s 1965 Mustang convertible (my aunt had one of these bad-boys; they are niiice!) and vroom off to Nagoya to drop off excessively paranoid Ozaki at a “disposal” facility, as ordered by the Yakuza head-honcho. This is a particularly difficult task for the reluctant chauffeur because he is indebted to Ozaki for saving his life. Even though his passenger is barely recognizable-- threatening to kill cute middle-aged ladies and flinging Pomeranians at store windows because he believes they are “Yakuza Hunters” --Minami harbours hope for his “Aniki” (slang, big brother).
Unfortunately on this short trek, he has other things to worry about. The road mysteriously ends, Minami discovers that he’s accidentally killed Ozaki and has lost his corpse. He meets a slew of eccentric characters and has to rely on riddles and clues in order to relocate his buddy. In a land where everything is so bizarre, how can he trust that these situations are actually happening?
The audience is fed knowledge simultaneously corresponding to Minami’s exploration; we see exactly what he sees. We are shocked, relieved, deranged and disgusted when he is. Ambient (fire up the 5.1) and giggle-worthy inappropriate sound effects and baritone frequency pitches provide us with eerie accordance. The overall score and special effects are minimalist innovatively effective. The deluge of reality, the components of reason versus denial and possible betrayal (our own eyes lying to us), this amazing story makes us yearn to understand. We don’t want all of the answers, we just want Ozaki and Minami to be reunited.
Ozaki eventually catches up to his indentured servant in a dream, passing a note through a slobbering bovine, asking to pick him up. When Minami arrives at the seemingly unfamiliar area, he is told yet another version of his Aniki’s demise. While pondering which is the accurate path, Ozaki pops up in the backseat. Or is it just a woman who _proclaims she is Ozaki? At any rate, she is pretty and he is a virgin so who knows what would happen if they had sex? If they do, he must find a way to make her nether regions quit mumbling (Cronenberg stylee) first.
Gozu is definitely one of Miike’s stranger films. Like Lynch’s Lost Highway, events unfold in a completely bizarre, yet believable manner, adhering to a sense of logic present in only the strangest of dreams and the absolute best novels of Haruki Murakami. Half the time you’re not quite sure whether Minami is awake or dreaming. Could he have crossed over into some alternate universe, or is this town just that strange? It’s even possible he’s somehow crossed into a strange state of purgatory. Are the people he questions alive, spirits, demons, or worse? The film’s wonderfully odd, strangely beautiful, quirkily funny, and damn intriguing.
Minami visits a restaurant whose patrons repeat the same odd dialogue day after day, as if stuck in a time loop. He meets a strange man in a meadow who agrees to help him find his Aniki, and informs him some of the people he’s questioned are ghosts. He stays at a hotel run by an odd brother and sister who possess psychic powers and an inexplicable addiction to milk. But that’s just the tip of the strange town-folk ice-burg. This is the strangest town outside of Twin Peaks.
This is one of Miike’s tamer films. He relies mainly on atmosphere and the strange characters to maintain a delightful sense of unease. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a few gross out moments sprinkled here and there. Miike actually revisits a few things from previous films, like the milk scene from Visitor Q, but greatly improves upon them. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you’re in for the strangest scene involving a hand since The Dark Backward.
There’s not much to add that Kris hasn’t already said, and we’ve done our best to give you the bare minimum information needed before you see the film. I believe you should go into this movie with as little knowledge beforehand as possible. Don’t even watch the trailer! Seeing this cold is the best way to go.
Gozu’s definitely a film that begs for repeat viewings and wide open to interpretation. I’ve only seen this film once so far, but I’ll definitely be going back for more. Do yourself a favor. Check out Gozu.