More weirdness from Japanese maverick

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DIRECTED BY Takashi Miike

STARRING Hideki Sone, Sho Aikawa, Komika Yoshino

Opens July 30, Cert 18, 130 mins

Wildly prodigious and prodigiously wild, director Takashi Miike has forged a reputation for assaulting the sensibilities and stomachs of his audiences. His gleefully perverse exercises in transgression (Audition, Ichi The Killer, The Happiness Of The Katakuris) take taboo-busting sex and violence to new extremes, fusing these essential elements and twisting them into alien cinematic shapes.

The fusing and twisting continue in Gozu, although this time Miike stretches his material, too, demanding patience from his fans as he takes a detour into David Lynch territory. When yakuza Ozaki (Sho Aikawa) starts to show signs of madness (his assassination of a Chihuahua being the most overt), his sidekick Minami (Hideki Sone) is ordered to eliminate him. Driving out into the country to do the job, Minami is alarmed when Ozaki dies accidentally and then… disappears. His attempts to find the body lead to encounters with a variety of strange locals, including a junkyard dweller who’s a yakuza disposal expert and a ferociously lactating innkeeper. But it’s Minami’s dreamlike confrontation with a cow-headed spirit (the mythological “gozu” of the title) and the appearance of a mysterious woman claiming to be Ozaki reincarnated that pushes the film into the outer-limits, even by Miike’s standards. While this surreal picaresque is by turns aimless and inspired, the demented climax will leave your jaw on the floor. Without giving too much away, a gangster boss’s… er…anal stimulant proves to be his undoing and the old, familiar Ozaki finally re-emerges from an unlikely source.

Miike may make more films than you can keep up with, but this one’s a keeper. It’s a slow-burn for sure, but the ending proves that Miike has known exactly what he’s doing all along, providing a pace, a structure and a playful sense of humour that give his shock tactics even more impact than in the past. Brace yourself…


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