In a theater near the famous Opéra Garnier, the 4th annual Paris International Fantastic Film Festival opened Tuesday night with a screening of the Japanese yakuza film, The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji. Takashi Miike‘s psychedelic cinematic feast announced the many hues of this year’s selection – and in a rather explosive manner.
Miike has turned a classic infiltration plot into a top gear Technicolor action flick that borders on parody. Reiji Kikukawa is basically a failed cop. Maybe because he’s still a virgin. Or simply because he’s not cut out for catching criminals. He’s fired yet undergoes some bizarre tests to become a mole — an undercover agent. After one of these tests where he rides naked on the hood of a car he is dropped off in the most dangerous Japanese yakuza clan, or Mafia. No one in the force believes he’ll make it out alive, yet despite his clumsiness and lack of skills, he finds his niche … or is it luck? And the result is a visual hyperbole. Hit the jump for more.
The Japanese comic book world is transposed to the screen with cartoonish exaggeration by breaking the rules of good taste, transposing coarse humor, gratuitous violence and saturated colors straight out of the manga from which it is adapted. This yakuza film is ambitious and bombastic, kitsch and poetic, sincere and delirious. The actors excel in their shameless overacting in a plot that is as over-the-top as their wardrobe: leopard print suits, overcoats fit for a pimp, diamond teeth that would put the most bling gangsta rapper to shame, and tattoos galore.
PIFFF certainly heralds a non-conventional selection for the fantastic genre in this 4th edition. At the opening ceremony, the theme was announced: love. Crazy love — l’amour fou as they say in French. Obsessive love. Love in all forms extreme.
The organizers admit it was a very tough selection to make since it is increasingly difficult each year to find good films. They chose “borderline movies” that aren’t necessarily classified as complete horror flicks, but rather horror with an edge … to keep you on edge.
In the official competition, the US is represented by four movies: Time Lapse, Bag Boy Lover Boy, Starry Eyes and the Italian co-production Spring. Their competitors include Housebound (New Zealand), The Duke of Burgundy (Great Britain), Alleluia (France/Belgium) and Shrew’s Nest (Spain).
The audience is the jury, voting after each screening and judging by the crop of films in the selection, it is going to be a difficult task.
A flick from the Retro category provides a buffer between the two competing films. On its first day, PIFFF celebrates the 30th anniversary of Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare On Elm Street. Short films are also an important part of PIFFF with two parallel competitions, International and French shorts, as well as an off-competition selection.
The festival continues well into the night, with special screenings and events after 10pm. Opening night is tame with a screening of Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal, but popcorn will fly all over the place on Saturday night with its Alien Attack Night. Get ready to drink gallons of caffeinated drinks while watching classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Blob, They Live and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
Will we survive the night and attend the closing ceremony on Sunday?