Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Funky Forest The First Contact |
Actors: Kotaro Shiga, Kazue Fukiishi, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Ryo Kase, Chizuru Ikewaki
Directors: Katsuhito Ishii, Shunichiro Miki, ANIKI
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Animation
Cult-favorite director Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste of Tea, Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl) teams up with the talented Shunichiro Miki and ANIKI to create another visually inventive masterpiece! Funky Forest features hilari... more »
Sit back, relax and watch TV -- like surfing through the cab
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 03/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Funky Forest: The First Contact is laugh out loud loopy -- the most fun I've had watching a film in a long time. Bad comedians, bizarre dance routines, a show and tell classroom, a canine director of animated films, aliens who hope to take over the world, geeky brothers, a funky forest that delivers otherworldly pop, and lots more go into this almost indescribably odd and hilarious film from the maker of The Taste of Tea.
The best description I can think of for Funky Forest: The First Contact is: a Japanese avant-garde science fiction musical comedy television network film. If that doesn't make any sense, or if that doesn't entice your interest, there may be nothing I can say that can convey how delightful and funny and quirky and charming this film really is.
But here's another go: imagine you find yourself in a cheap Tokyo hotel above a busy neon bright city street, and you may have had one too many drinks of sake or maybe not since you can't really remember how you ended up in a hotel room in Japan in the first place, but you can't sleep and you are bored so you turn on the television and start flipping through the channels and each program is a little more strange than the last one and you start to wonder whether you are really asleep after all and dreaming but you think to yourself that your dreams usually aren't so odd and funny and colorful and you don't want to wake up because you are having too much fun. Watching Funky Forest is a little bit like that, but maybe even better."
Intermittently interesting, but hard to recommend
Likes2Read | United States, TX | 08/24/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you are going to watch this movie, it will help if you go into it not expecting anything resembling a normal movie. I have to admit that I had a pretty violently negative reaction to it at first, and I turned it off at about the 15 or 20 minute mark. After reading some online reviews, I decided to give it another chance when I was in a more receptive frame of mind, and I had a somewhat better time with it. I still think that it's too long, and it has some boring stuff I would have cut (particularly the "babbling hot springs vixens" parts), but if you're willing to stick with it, it becomes an interesting experience. It may seem pretty disjointed at first, and to some, the movie may seem like a collection of completely random, unconnected vignettes, but I think that structuring the movie this way possibly makes it a less frustrating experience that it might have been otherwise because you're not likely to feel that the movie has an intricate plot that is impossible to follow, and if you start to get bored with any particular segment, it's probably pretty close to being over.
It is a bit like channel surfing through strange Japanese tv at 3 am, which is both good and bad. It might help a little if, instead of looking at this as a movie, you look at it a little bit more like a filmed piece of performance art or a really, really strange concert film/extended music video. It would be fair to call the film "dreamlike," but it's worth remembering that the vast majority of dreams that people have would probably make for rather dull viewing.
I would offer a few of pieces of advice for those interested in seeing this movie:
1. If you are not familiar with the names Katsuhito Ishii or Tadanobu Asano, then don't bother with this movie. You probably won't get much out of it.
2. If you have ever turned off a movie because it was "too weird," then don't bother with it.
3. If you start to feel like giving up on the movie during the early part of the film, skip ahead to about the 50 minute mark. I think that this is the point where the film starts to get a little bit better (Overall, I think that the "Side B" half of the film is stronger than the first half, and it has a pretty nifty anime sequence).
4. This may be a movie that's best watched in small doses. Watching "side A" one night and then "side B" the next might be a less frustrating experience.
Overall, I'm not sure that this is a film I would recommend to anyone, but you're not likely to find anything else quite like it."
A film that thinks outside the box and overall unique in its
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 12/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An artistic masterpiece or just one very odd film? Depending on the viewer, "FUNKY FOREST" (or "Nice no Mori") could be anything I suppose. And I think that because it's so strange, fun and at times, mind boggling, it's why I the film has become a cult-hit.
I am quite familiar with the work of Katsuhito Ishii, who definitely received some rave reviews for his film "The Taste of Tea" at the Cannes Film Festival but what happens when you take one of the most popular abstract and creative directors and pair him up with equally creative filmmakers such as Shunichiro Miki and ANIKI, you're definitely going to get something wild, unique and something you probably never have seen before.
To explain "FUNKY FOREST" would be a bit difficult. It's not written as a straightforward film. There is no actual climatic points or anything like that. It's 21 free-associative short episodes featuring some of the weirdest characters and also cameos by well-known Japanese talent.
For example,"Little Hataru" is a single segment starring a young girl who is bored and bored of homework, so she has the ability to leave reality and enter some sort of dimension, space or time or does she?
One of my favorite segments in the film are featuring the the Guitar Brothers. Three unpopular brothers, Katsuichi, Masaru and Masao. For their storyline, Katsuichi (Terajima) tries to learn dance but eventually goes to the Hot Springs where he encounters three beautiful women and tries to develop the guts to ask them out for a singles party. Masaru (Asano) is a guitarist. A very good guitarist but somehow he tries to get the approval of his little brother, a Caucasian/portly child who is constantly eating Snicker bars and responds with bad/limited Japanese.
Another favorite segment is "Notti and Takefumi". Two young adults, Notti (or Nocchi) likes jogging and spending time with Takefumi. Takefumi teaches English, has an awesome vinyl collection (which I'm crediting to filmmaker ANIKI for including his passion for vinyl's in this segment) but despite being close, they are dating but not dating. There is no romantic relationship, they look very close but somehow aren't. But they enjoy each other's company. A very intriguing relationship by these two individuals and fun segment to watch.
The Mole Brothers is reminscent to a lot of comedic duos in Japan who have their bit of slapping the other person behind the head and all in all, just telling jokes that may or may not be funny.
Babbling Hot Spring Vixens feature three young women taking a trip to the hot springs and telling the stories that they had in their life (or what other's are having). For this segment, the women meet Masaichi (of the Guitar Brothers) and have fun with him by singing happy birthday and giving him 10,000 Yen. And Katsuichi may have found love and tries to ask one of the women out to a single's party. Then one of the girls tells a story that she heard from Takefumi (from the Notti and Takefumi story) about aliens and entering a UFO.
After the first 70 minutes of the film, you get a 3-minute intermission. If you thought the first half was quite weird, your in for a ride as the second half of the film just gets wilder, stranger and also much more enjoyable!
The second half starts off with "Wanna Go For a Drink?" featuring a girl who runs into a guy wearing an animal suit but with its tail coming out of his frontal region. The guy asks the teenager to pull his tail and she thinks she's on candid camera or something. Once she pulls it, she's joined by a slick-haired Takefumi wearing the top half of a black tie and suit and underwear. It appears these people may be aliens. They ask her to stick something in her bellybutton which allows them to start their machine.
One of my favorite segments from the second half of the film is "Homeroom Room!!!" featuring Masaichi (Guitar Brothers) teaching a class of students young and old. Special note: Among the students are Hideaki Anno (creator of the anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion"), who also has a few parts of him acting throughout the film. In one segment, one students is ticked because someone stole one of his shoes and goes through a long dialogue blaming his class, until he sits back down and you realize he is wearing both shoes. The next segment features Ms. Kikuchi (a cameo by Academy Award nominee, "Babel" actress Rinko Kikuchi) playing the class president who has her class repeat her "yankee" (bully) like talk.
"Guitar Brothers" makes its return in the second half with a hilarious piece because you know that Masaru (Asano) is talking to Masao (Alfieri) in Japanese and Masao has no idea what he's saying but it's just funny to watch. Especially when Masaichi invites them for ramen and Masao just jumps up and down with excitement saying "iku iku" (which is term in Japan used for something a bit nasty) instead of "ikou ikou".
But then the aliens (CGI) start to become part of the storyline as some of the classmates from "Home Room!!!" start to play with the aliens as musical instruments. And even revealing that some of these students may be aliens themselves. Such as a scene where one student holding an alien, has another student plugging that alien's tentacle to his rear. Another scene features a stump-like thing (or a nude woman laying down with her legs up in the air) and out of these stump are branches of little alien men. One has a unhappy face, so one must stroke his tentacle to make him happy.
These are examples of the wild storylines from each of the 21 episodes included in "FUNKY FOREST". It's hard to even explain the film but what I like about the film is how much was improvised and how creative the director's had in creating such an unsually odd, unique but entertaining film.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
The original film was shot in 35mm and is presented with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1 and is featured in anamorphic widescreen (16:9). The film is shot in so many locations, indoor, outdoor, cramped rooms, hot springs, parks, schools, etc. As for the audio, the primary film is mostly dialogue but during the scenes that feature music, your home theater system literally blasts off with the audio really blaring out in full force.
Before talking about the features, this release features two DVD's. The first disc features the movie and has two types of chapter menus. The Director's Chapter menu is primarily if you want to watch the segments directed by either Ishii, Miki or ANIKI. Definitely a thumbs up for the DVD featuring these two different types of menu. The first disc also features the original Japanese theatrical, television and teaser trailers.
The second DVD has a few special features which are:
* The Making of "Funky Forest" - "Into the World of the Unfathomable Forest" - This feature is about 70-minutes long and was a blast to watch. One thing that I enjoyed was seeing all the cameos of actors I have seen on Japanese television before pretty much excited with working with one of these directors and knowing how weird the project will be but because of that, really wanting to be involved. Also, hearing from the other talent who had a blast to take part in the film and literally improvise. That was fun! But I think the coolest part featured anime director Hideaki Anno ("Neon Genesis Evangelion", "Gunbuster", "Kare Kano", etc.) and his interview and even some of the staff having their special edition DVD's signed by him because they were such big fans. So, overall this was an awesome special feature.
* "Katsuichi's Dance" Secret Treasure (A Choreography Lesson Video) - This features a segment in the beginning where Katsuichi has to dance and basically a behind-the-scenes choreography in which actor Susumu Terajima had to learn the dance moves.
* "The Transfer Student is Here" (Video Contents) - This is more or less the storyboard like work from this segment.
* Viz Pictures Presents - Trailers of other film releases from Viz Pictures
When it comes to odd films, creative or artistic type of films, I'm actually quite open to them and always interested in seeing how fresh the ideas can come from a director or in this case directors. I've heard so much about the creativity behind Katsuhito Ishii's "The Taste of Tea" and so, I was very much interested in watching "FUNKY FOREST: The First Contact".
This is a type of film, sort of like looking at an abstract piece of art. Everyone has their own interpretation. Some may find it beautiful, some may find it refreshing and unique, some may find it bland and some may find it uninteresting. This is one of those type of films that some will get and some won't.
There are a lot of dream sequences that can be interpreted in many types of ways, the appearances of aliens can either mean that the people we are watching are indeed aliens or just a manifestation of boredom or stress. It's one of those films that you just don't analyze or figure out what, you just sit and watch and just laugh and enjoy because of its unique and strange presentation.
There are some visual references that possibly can be considered as sexual or even nasty (ie. stroking an alien's tentacle up and down to make it happy) or an alien with odd-shaped nipples that shoots out a variety of things from them. Or a bulbous type of whatever you may want to call it, that comes out of the butt of an alien. These are not meant to be taken seriously, but they are funny to watch nonetheless.
Granted, of the 21-episodes, not all of them are winners. There are some that I felt were a bit too long (such as Takefumi's dream sequence) and perhaps a difference in Western perspective, Katsuichi's dance also was OK. But that is another thing that makes this film special is that each episode, outside of the guys trying to get some women to attend their single's picnic, the majority of the segments can be watched in any order and you can skip a segment and not really miss anything integral to the storyline.
So, all in all, the film was very odd but also very fun to watch. Depending on the individual, this film is literally like an abstract piece of art and like any piece of art, anyone can have their own interpretation.
As for the DVD, it made the film even much more enjoyable for me by the inclusion of the "making of" featurette and to see the behind-the-scenes creation of the film was a blast!
In the end, this film is not going to be for everyone, but if you are the type that is up for anything different, unique and strange, then "FUNKY FOREST: The First Contact" is a movie worth checking out!"
A joyous journey
A. W. Bailey | Belmont, New Hampshire, USA | 02/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I caught this on an imported DVD and can't wait to pick up the US release. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, since this is partially spun off of some coffee commercials from Japan. When I was done, I wanted to go back and experience it all over again. The plot? There really is no plot. It's a big hodge podge of skits (both live action and animated) that seem to be meant to make you feel, more than make you think. Most of them are fantastic (and fantastical). Humor, dance and music are used extensively throughout the film. Really, if you love odd, non linear films that soar, I can't recommend this enough. If you like your films to be realistic or easily explained, this will drive you up a wall. Do yourself a favor and seek out the trailer or clips first."