When Masao Katakuri buys a hotel next to Mount Fuji with his redundancy money and it fails to make any money, it looks like another failure to be added to the families stock. His father is half mad, his son is a criminal and his eldest daughter is divorced. This he hopes will change when the hotels first customer comes to stay. The new guest is very rich and quite personable but he seems a little withdrawn. Masao looks past this and dreams that they may just be on a better path. When in the morning they find him dead by an apparent suicide, it is almost too much to take in. Cue songs, Claymation and a little weird world of the Katakuris own making. A world that might include Zombies, eruptions and even angel type killers with wings….I warned you!
Some do not get what Takashi Miike is all about. He is known for films that are experience pieces. They are sometimes ultra-violent, have personally crazed characters or even as a whole are slightly off kilter in regards to film language. The whole ethos Miike is working on for his features can be summed up in two words ‘subversive Japan’.Here he takes the form of a romantic musical opera. A classic style musical actually would be more correct and injects the world of melodrama and black comedy. Then like some crazed maniac, cuts it apart and mashes it back together in ever more abstract and absurd ways. Reflecting on its way influnces far and wide, from Jan Svankmajer to Robert Wise. He is not the first to do this, nor will he be the last but this film is extremely well constructed work of modern social commentary and art.
Film can sometimes come with intellectual baggage and this is of great merit and great benefit but it might be a brick wall to many. If you try to read too deeply into why the film is constructed such or what it means when that happens. You restrict the return on your investment as you watch . What I am saying is that a film can be solely a great event of us switching on and tuning in to sensations. This is also great fun in the sense of a visual sensation piece. It has so much to find and so much just to take on board. If you let it ride along and don’t start asking it ever more questions about its content, you find it as rewarding. Subversion can be a dirty word and it can make for films on the edge, this is not on the edge. This has jumped off and has an anchor as a parachute.