Funeral Parade Of Roses
Japanese with English subtitles
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Long unavailable in the U.S., director Toshio Matsumoto's shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. No less than Stanley Kubrick cited the film as a direct influence on his own dystopian classic A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter (from Kurosawa's RAN) gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet where she's ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (played by Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya, from SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO). One of Japan's leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time here like Resnais in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image + sound. Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography by Tatsuo Suzuki that rivals the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, FUNERAL PARADE offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens. Whether laughing with drunken businessmen, eating ice cream with her girlfriends, or fighting in the streets with a local girl gang, Peter's ravishing Eddie is something to behold. "She has bad manners, all she knows is coquetry," complains her rival Leda but in fact, Eddie's bad manners are simply being too gorgeous for this world. Her stunning presence, in bell-bottom pants, black leather jacket and Brian Jones hair-do, is a direct threat to the social order, both in the Bar Genet and in the streets of Tokyo. A key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema, FUNERAL PARADE has been restored in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements for this 2017 re-release.
- New 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
- 8 newly remastered avant-garde short films by Toshio Matsumoto
- Audio commentary by Chris D.
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer
- Original 1969 Japanese Theatrical Trailer
- New essay by Hirofumi Sakamoto, Director of the Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive
" Few movies are as redolent of their times as 'Funeral Parade of Roses', a 1969 exemplar of Japanese countercultural ferment...retrieved from history's dustbin and digitally restored to its original black-and-white glory... " ---New York Times
"Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 film Funeral Parade of Roses is a heady affair, especially when seen in our aesthetically and politically conservative times. It imparts the thrill of witnessing the hedonism and lawlessness both sexual and artistic of a bygone culture. You also feel an almost tragic surge of melancholia watching it: where and when, you wonder, will cinema ever get quite this wild again?" ---Film Comment
"50 Years Later, This Transgressive Japanese Drama Is Still a Party and a Procession." ---Indiewire
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This story follows the Oedipus Myth, yet it is set in 1960s Tokyo with gorgeous black and white cinematography which makes the dreamy setting look as dated as the 1930s or as recent as the 1980s. Club owner and playboy Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya) is involved in a love triangle between aging drag queen (Osamu Ogasawara) and the youthful go-go dancer and hostess Eddie (Peter, aka Pîtâ or Shinnosuke Ikehata). As the two feud, Eddie reminiscences of murdering his own tormenting mother(Emiko Azuma) and her lover. As events unfold, the partying, romances, infighting and surrounding clashes of student protesting in 1960s Tokyo reaches a gory climax with a shocking revelation.
Experimental film, documentary, myth, poetry, art and fiction are bent and blended as much as gender, sex, sexuality and sexual orientation. There are a lot of trippy scenes and gnarly images as well as humor, erotica and drama. Peter is excellent as the star-crossed free-spirit Eddie managing great talent in facial expression from mourning to annoyance at a hair salon as well as feminine mannerisms. The poetic interludes and introductions, not narrated but simply shown with place-cards, are beautifully apt, touching and philosophical. The little touches of experimentalism in scenes like the cat fight in the club where the characters wardrobes transform to fit a duel or how onlookers form to rubberneck the event. This is one of many samples of experimental filmmaking paired with traditional narrative and mythology working very well together in the film, but it is best to watch the movie yourself to see how Matsumoto does it through the whole movie. Many viewers can recognize the influences this film would have on film director Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange with the sped up action synchronized with European classical music. With frank depictions of sex and other sensitive subjects as well as gory violence, this film is not for everyone. But if you can handle such topics, this can be an entertaining masterpiece and gem of cinema for you. It is a shame this is not available on all DVD regions.