Katsuhito Ishii  



Kastuhito made a splash with the cartoonish Yakuza flick 'Shark Skin Man And Peach Hip Girl' and has become increasingly weirder and more visually inventive since then. Except, like Miike, he is difficult to pin down and tries his hand at a wide variety of genres, including a dramatic remake of an old classic (My Darling of the Mountains), stand-up comedy, and an animation. He often creates some kind of mixture of live-action strange cartoons, absurd oddities with hip characters and dialogue that are funny in a very warped way. In terms of dialogue, Tarantino has nothing on Katsuhito, his characters often having long absurd arguments over silly details and telling crazy stories, and they all have some kind of odd twist to their character. Katsuhito lets his imagination run wild and seemingly knows no boundaries in order to entertain, inserting whimsical impossibilities at any time, including animations, aliens, strange people in colorful costumes or ghosts with crap on their heads. Also makes mangas with similar humor. An entertaining film-maker, but one that suffers from randomness and whimsy.

Of Some Interest

Party 7  
More a silly and very odd farce than truly weird, this cartoonish comedy tells the tale of a loser on the run from a Yakuza boss after stealing his money. He checks in to a hotel run by professional peeping toms, and one visitor after another somehow finds him and adds to the complication. The peeping toms raise their hobbies to hi-tech fine art and a way of life, wearing weird, colorful super-human costumes and masks, and the visitors include an ex-girlfriend who is with her new rich but geeky boyfriend. Most of the movie consists of arguments over silly, stupid details like flying crap that comes from outer space in a parabola or a straight line, whether it's obvious that a man is wearing a wig, or that a man has a back panel in his heart in which he thinks another man is crazy, but it gets so silly sometimes that it's funny.

Smuggler  
Once again, a different type of movie from Katsuhito. This one could easily be mistaken for a Miike flick in his earlier days, and is an ultra-violent Yakuza flick based on a manga, with cartoonish over-the-top characters, whimsical slightly weird touches, and mesmerizing ultra-violence. A gentle loser finds himself indebted to the mob, and is promptly forced to work as a dead body smuggler. One day, some extremely violently-gifted assassins attack the boss, triggering rising tension and war between the Chinese and Japanese mobs, with the smugglers caught in the middle given the job of transporting one of the (still alive) assassins called Viscera. The loser finds himself required to take on much, much more than he can handle. The violent fights and kills are superb and stylish including precision-nunchaku murders, the criminals include some strange characters, including an assassin afraid of death, a boss that goes manic over second-hand smoke, and a bushy eye-browed sadistic freak, and there are some Katsuhito moments of impossible action straight out of a cartoon, and a frog that comes out of nowhere. This is all par for the course for a manga, except it also features an extended scene of torture that is sadistic even without displaying graphic gore. Highly entertaining, but inconsistent in tone, awkwardly splicing together a cartoon with realism and drama.

Taste of Tea, The  
A weird family in the country has all kinds of problems. The grandfather likes tuning-forks, making martial art poses and singing songs like "Why are you a Triangle". The young daughter is haunted by a huge copy of herself. The uncle was once haunted by a ghost with crap on his head after he took a dump on a big egg. They do various odd things such as employing a hypnotist who takes them to a psychedelic plane. And there are other plotlines like the boy with a crush on his Go-playing schoolmate, silly song numbers, weird animation projects and a weird boss at work who looks in the mirror all the time and gets the mother in trouble with her husband. Colorful, whimsical entertainment, funny at first, meanders in the middle, and cute at the end. Lacks structure overall.

Worthless

Funky Forest: The First Contact  
Two and a half hours of silly improvisation, weirdness, singing and dance numbers. Recurring characters include a moronic and clownish comedy skit duo, a teacher/DJ and his female student, three 'unpopular with women' guitar brothers, and three 'hot spring vixens', all of which simply tell pointless stories, or improvise with each other on random silly subjects. There's some weird sci-fi animation, an extended dream sequence with lots of dancing in strange costumes and headless animated characters, intermissions with a countdown clock, a scene where a guy in a long fluffy penis costume asks a girl to stick a tube in her navel so he can pull out a tiny man from a box with an anus-like orifice, bizarre Cronenberg-esque creatures that serve as musical instruments, and more. Silly, chaotic and utterly pointless.

Hokuro Brothers Full Throttle!!!!
7 episodes and 36 minutes of the comedy duo from Funky Forest, this time animated, mostly on stage and unstoppable. It's silly nonsense running at 200mph with endless taunts and smacks like the Three Stooges on coffee and drugs, and I suppose one could call them out as lame and dumb if one could catch up with them. The surreal stage is decorated with random floating objects, the stand-up occasionally interrupted by bizarre animations of a tire-head teacher, back-stage UFOs, or sci-fi nonsense and monsters that attack the stage.




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