Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Two Disc Collector's Edition
Actors: Sh˘hei Hino, Ryo Ishibashi, Kimika Yoshino, Sh˘ Aikawa, Harumi Sone
Director: Takashi Miike
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
What starts out as a gangster film spirals rapidly out of control when a young yakuza is ordered to assassinate his own superior, who also happens to be his closest friend. When his target disappears before he can do the j... more »
Good movie, great DVD
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 04/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Explaining that there's a "Yakuza attack dog" outside, a Japanese gangster in the midst of a nervous breakdown strolls out of a restaurant and proceeds to beat an adorable Chihuahua to death, culminating when he swings the animal over his head by its leash and throws it against a window with a sickening thud. A mob boss browbeats an underling over the phone while having sex with a ladle planted firmly up his rectum. An innkeeper lactates into bottles in order to avoid paying for milk, and later flogs her simple-minded brother with a chimney brush while he attempts to conjure up a spirit for a stunned guest. A drooling, cow-headed demon suddenly shows up in a dream sequence, then vanishes as quickly as it had appeared with no explanation whatsoever.
Sound weird? Well, it should. However, the foregoing are just a sampling of the oddities on display in Gozu (Japanese for "Cow head," apparently), a film that's sure to have even the most experienced enthusiasts of far-out cinema shaking their heads in wonderment. Directed by notorious Japanese weird-out master Takashi Miike with his typical combination of high style, black humor, and random acts of weirdness, Gozu is a relentlessly inscrutable movie, constantly throwing a new curveball at you just when you think you've got a grip on it. And while Miike has certainly toned down the bloodshed for which he's renowned here, his knack for unforgettable set pieces has obviously managed to survive intact. This movie has some images that WILL remain seared onto your retinas for some time after viewing, none more so than its literally unbelievable conclusion. There's not even a suitable description for that scene; you've just got to see it.
At the movie's beginning, things look much more innocent, or at least simpler. After the aforementioned mentally unbalanced Yakuza, Ozaki (played with menacing flair by Japanese crime-movie mainstay Sho Aikawa), commits his shocking act of doggy-cide in the opening scene, his boss decides he must be taken out. The task of doing the deed falls to his underling and closest friend, Minami (Hideki Sone), a nice enough sort who's understandably conflicted about whacking his old buddy. However, Minami manages to get the job done, albeit in a somewhat unconventional manner, and proceeds to a predetermined dump site in order to dispose of the body. Unfortunately, Minami makes a quick stop for coffee in a diner populated by some, er, offbeat characters, and suddenly looks at his car and finds Ozaki inexplicably gone. And that's when things get *really* weird.
His search for Ozaki takes Minami to a town filled with bizarre characters, from a gangster with no pigment on one side of his face to the aforementioned lactating innkeeper to a couple of weirdos who sit around a diner talking about the weather; and things just keep getting stranger from there. It quickly becomes apparent that Minami is the most normal person in the movie, and much of the fun of watching Gozu comes from observing the cognitive dissonance as Minami tries to adjust to the reality of his surroundings. It's horror of a sort, but it springs more from a deep-seated discomfort than from any particular shock or fright, and Sone conveys it brilliantly with little more than the frequent look of befuddlement on his face. The pacing is admittedly slow, sometimes painfully so, but that doesn't stop Gozu from being a triumph of atmosphere and surrealism. Minami is the proverbial stranger in a strange land, but here the land is strange in more ways than one. It's been said that the often tenuous nature of reality is a common theme in Miike's work, and that's apparent here, as Gozu gets a lot of mileage out of seeing Minami placed in such uncomfortable surroundings and witnessing one scarcely conceivable event after another.
Sometimes (the Yakuza boss with a ladle up his butt being a prime example) the movie's bizarre imagery is gratuitous (if funny), but in other places it's clearly designed to shock you into thinking. This becomes especially apparent in the film's final half, when the unlikely reappearance of Ozaki in an, er, modified form begin's Miike's exploration of the reincarnation/rebirth angle that gives Gozu what emotional resonance it has. This theme gains its fullest expression in the literally jaw-dropping finale, which surely ranks as one of the most stunning in film history. Again, nothing that can be written in this space can do this scene justice. It has to be seen to be disbelieved.
With all the bizarre happenings going on, Gozu is definitely a challenging watch and not exactly for everyone, but fortunately the plethora of extras on the DVD do a whole lot to enhance the viewing experience. Especially useful is the fanboy commentary track from film critics Andy Klein and Wade Major, who discuss some of the underlying themes of the movie like two experts dissecting a football game, while simultaneously placing it in context among both Miike's repertoire in particular and Japanese cinema in general. You also get an essay from Miike expert Tom Mes that cites some of the film's ideas and influences and no less than three interviews with Miike that see him talking about his philosophy on filmmaking and analyzing some of his own work. Miike is certainly one strange cat, which probably explains why he made this movie in the first place, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you like Audition or any of his other work, you should consider Gozu an essential watch."
One of the best movies ever
Janice Wells-lipton | ca | 02/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i absolutely loved this film. without destroying the story let me tell you if one were to classify this film it would be a cross between a gangster, horror thriller, suspense mystery, and a weird twisted version of love. The japaneese are twisted and boy is this movie its gots some weird but intellectual humor constantly throughout the film. Its a little slow but it adds to the strangness of the world the main character is in. Every scene is so perfectly scripted in such an odd but intriguing way. The main character searches for his brother which may sound kinda boring but its bizarre, everyone he meets and everywhere he goes is off, theres something just not right about it all. Its like he's stuck in a dream and he is the only one and all he wants to do is find his lost brother! Throw in the dreamlike paranoia with the artistic creative side of this directors works and you got GOZU! gozu meaning cow head's got some real memorable scenes that yourll be feeling sick to or laughing about or just plain remembering at random points in the day for a long time."
Wux Iapan | Zurich | 07/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When compared to Lynch I somehow disagree. It's my subjective feeling about this movie for sure, but the main difference to Lynch's movies is the fact that Lynch movies are filled up with ideas that seem connected with dreamlike logic. Every scene has this "important key moment" feeling to it, making the audience to really think and search for connections and clues. With GOZU I somehow quit looking for explanations very early on as it is deadly obvious that there are none. It's just a trip in which not really much happens - the things that happen are sometimes cool, sometimes just bizarre for it's own sake, not giving you the impression that two scenes really belong to each other. The movie and its story could be told in a few minutes but is stretched with a lot of nothingness in between the scenes. The ideas could be counted on the fingers of two hands while with Lynch, it was much more uncompromising.
GOZU tells the odyssey of a man who's searching the corpse of his boss that got lost in a strange japanese town. His quest leads him from one person to the other, everyone is acting strange, one american woman for example is having a dialogue with the guy, always staring at the ceiling, but at one point she seems to have troubles telling the name of a hotel, so he checks the ceiling and finds the whole dialogue they just had written down there. Many scenes made me go "ah wow now look there ha ha ha", but left me untouched afterwards. I think the creators wanted to have a drifter film that you can watch and be guided throught with not really much to think. Sure, it's skillfully made and I actually liked the dialogues and events, but the way they happened was not really an experience like with "2001 space odyssey", "Lost Highway" and stuff. I would more think of "Fear and loathing in las vegas" for some strange reason. Some ideas I literally disliked, they made me go "aaaw cheap cheap", like the personality change at the end of the movie. I'd say there's no Freud and such stuff in here, it's just a fun movie in the end. Like a strange, dreamy trip."
Cow Demons Are Awesome
Arthur Kicker | Your Mom's House | 01/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like most of Takashi Miike's films, 'Gozu' is tough to watch. There are scenes here that are just hard to look at without scrunching your face up in shock/disguist(i.e. the dog at the beginning of the film, the lactation scene, the adult birth at the end, etc.). The film is slowly paced with sparse dialogue, filled with strange imagery, random scenes and oddly disturbing characters(i.e. ladle man, and the possibly retarded guy who keeps talking about the weather). In a nutshell, and for lack of better words, this film is truly repugnant.
I'm not really sure how to explain the film. I think it is better to go in knowing nothing and be amazed and/or disturbed by the many goings ons. This is not for the weak stomached. This is not for action movie lovers. I really don't know who this movie is for.
Miike is an amazing director. His films need to be seen because he is doing things today that no filmmaker anywhere in the world would even think of doing and he's doing them in a way that no one could or would even dare to. He's pushing the envelope in a time when very few filmmakers are. And 'Gozu' is probably the furthest he's ever pushed it."