Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 in Shit: Why Don't You Play in Hell?

I saw Why Don't You Play in Hell? because it was playing at the Japanese Film Festival of San Francisco, and because it was directed by Sion Sono. Sono's a director I've always meant to have seen more of, but his Suicide Club is all I've managed. I like that movie a lot; enough that I rewatched it prior to seeing this, and still really, really dug it. For whatever reason, rewatching it didn't prepare me for the most remarkable thing about Hell?, though: it's a fucking funny movie.

I've already called The Tale of Princess Kaguya my favorite movie I saw in 2014, and I stand by that. I'll give Why Don't You Play in Hell? my strongest recommendation, though. See this movie. If none of the rest of these convince you to see their subject, and you're looking for something to watch, just see this one. It's so great.

Hell? is about how making films leads to fighting cops. It's about how attractive stardom is, and how that attraction gets played out in ways that are mediated by gender. It's as romantic a take on filmmaking as Miyazaki's The Wind Rises with the critical edge significantly closer to the foreground. It's all the cleverness of The Midnight After without the reprehensible bullshit. It's about how going out in a blaze of glory doesn't make you any less of a fucking loser than you always were, and it's about that lovingly. It's about how films are spaces for the social, and how a big screen is only a space for secular reverence because we've fucked up and made it that way. It's about the tension between genre and realism and how this cuts through questions of content and form to technique and principles and funding. It's about earworm advertisements and organized crime and yeah I just really liked this movie a lot.

Hell? is definitely one of those movies I could talk about a lot, but not really in the sort of way that I write here. Which isn't to say that it couldn't be talked about in that way, by any stretch of the imagination; only that I don't really want to right now. I kinda just want people to watch it. So maybe do! I think it's neat.

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