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Archive for June, 2011

Survive Style 5+

Gen Sakigichi‘s Survive Style 5+ is many things but conventional is certainly not one of them. In an industry that has a knack for creating some of the most bizarre films to grace the screen, Survive Style 5+ manages to embrace Japan’s renowned eccentricity and create a film that is both visually pleasing and more importantly, thematically sound.

As suggested within the title, Survive Style 5+ is told through five independent points of view, and unlike the jumbled narratives of Alejandro Inarritu, the characters and their stories don’t come together like an intricate puzzle by film’s end.

The film is composed of five sets of unique characters. A female commercial director who finds herself doubting her commercial making abilities following an unsuccessful pitch and a series of critical statements from her boyfriend. A working class family who have their lives thrust into turmoil when their patriarch is mentally transformed into a bird by a hypnotist permanently. Three good-for-nothing hoodlums who find themselves constantly encountering and avoiding homo-erotic situations. A Japanese “hitman broker” and his English killer for hire (Vinnie Jones). And finally, a husband (Tadanobu Asano) whose daily ritual consists of murdering his wife and disposing of the body, only to find that she will continually  resurrect to exact revenge for his past transgressions.

You may be wondering how exactly these stories tie together, and the with exception of the hitmen who show up within most of the stories, they technically do not. Fortunately, this does little to detract from what turned out to be, an excellent film with a solid underlying theme. As crazy as it sounds, the odd scenarios and slapstick humor work towards building a surprisingly profound theme, and in this regard, it truly sets itself apart from similar films that are merely style over substance. The theme boils down to the notion that people don’t truly appreciate what we have until it is threatened or lost forever, which appears to be the adhesive that holds this storm of a film together.

Survive Style 5+ is a visual treat. While the camera work is certainly serviceable, it’s hardly the best aspect of the film’s cinematography. The first thing you’ll notice is the filmmaker’s usage of eye-popping overly bright colors, which gives it a relatively unique visual style that is quite inviting to the eyes. The film’s overall color pallet, which is by no means restricted to any specific colors, is quite reminiscent of the French film Amelie, and it’d be surprising if these similarities were mere coincidence. Alongside the film’s brilliant visuals is a high octane soundtrack composed of Japanese Rock and various contemporary tracks from outside the country of Japan, which compliment the film nicely and help to give it a fresh feel.

Final Verdict: While Survive Style 5+ is for a lack of a better word, strange, both in its plot and execution, if you’re willing to give it a try, you’ll find that this artistic mess amounts something that is incredibly enjoyable. The mixture of Fantasy, Comedy and Drama, wrapped between oddball characters and their implausible stories, in the end, seems to just work.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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