Built to blast
A stylish killer known as the Stray Cat litters the screen with dead bodies in the obtuse Japanese film "Pistol Opera" by legendary 90-year-old director Seijun Suzuki.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Charitably, we might try to think of "Pistol Opera" as the "Tampopo" of killing people.
In what seems to be intended as a fun, avant-garde romp, "Pistol Opera" is made up of sometimes nonsensical but lighthearted scenes featuring shootings and stabbings galore. Loosely constructed action scenes and improbable conversations are mixed with opera-style on-stage scenes of swordfighting, gun-shooting and caterwauling. Whether any of this has any significance at all is up to the viewer, but anyone who depends on conventional plot or the simplest logic to enjoy a film would be well advised to take a pass on this one.
|Directed by: Seijun Suzuki.|
Written by: Kazunori Ito, Takeo Kimura.
Cast: Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi, Kan Hanae, Masatoshi Nagase, Mikijiro Hira, Kirin Kiki, Kenji Sawada, Tomio Aoki, Haruko Kato, Yeong-he Han, Kensaku Watanabe, Jan Woudstra.
In Japanese with English subtitles.
"Pistol Opera" is 80-year-old Seijun Suzuki's belated followup to his 1967 film "Branded to Kill," a stylish shoot-'em-up said to have been an inspiration to the likes of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino. Be that as it may, this film is no "Pulp Fiction" it's an obtuse creation meant for avant-garde buffs only.
We follow the deadly journey of the lithe, beautiful Miyuki Minazuki, nicknamed "The Stray Cat," the number-three killer in a mystical assassin's guild. Her mentor, a retired killer who once occupied an exalted rank in the guild's hierarchy, praises her killing aesthetic: "With all of your wisdom, with all of your technique, killing blooms into a work of art."|
What he means by this is hard to fathom, because although Stray Cat is beautiful and elegantly dressed, her technique is pretty much to point a gun at somebody and shoot. Bang-bang, die-die. There's nothing interesting about her or what she does.
The Stray Cat's mission is to bump off her rivals from Doctor Painless to Snake Belly to a kid in a wheelchair before they do her. Will she become number one? Does it matter?
In fact, does anything in the film matter? Why is the woman in the picture above lying against a piano keyboard in the woods? Why does a realistic-looking older woman suddenly bust into our narrative to talk about the death of Mishima, and then disappear again? Why is any of this happening? If you're that one in a million Japanese-cult-film fanatic who eats up this stuff, then by all means you can have it. Otherwise, just move on.
|JUNE 13, 2003|
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Reader comments on Pistol Opera:
suzuki from crank dawg12, Nov 7, 2003
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