The annals of strange just got thicker with the arrival of "Funky Forest: The First Contact," a surreal sci-fi-musical-whatsit whose resistance to thematic or narrative logic renders viewers thoroughly -- but not unpleasantly -- bewildered for 2½ hours. Breathtakingly, often hilariously bizarre, it's nobody's idea of a commercial sureshot.

The annals of strange just got thicker with the arrival of “Funky Forest: The First Contact,” a surreal sci-fi-musical-whatsit whose resistance to thematic or narrative logic renders viewers thoroughly — but not unpleasantly — bewildered for 2½ hours. Breathtakingly, often hilariously bizarre, it’s nobody’s idea of a commercial sureshot. But pic merits attention from adventuresome fest programmers, and will doubtless accrue a cult following on DVD.

First team effort for writing-helming-editing trio of Katsuhito Ishii (“Shark Skin Boy and Peach Hip Woman,” “Taste of Tea”), TV commercial directors Shin’ichiro Miki and Anika aka Hajime Ishimine is a series of deadpan, oft-fantastical non sequiturs and goofy plot threads. Latter occasionally intersect, but scarcely hint at any game plan. Recurrent elements include idiot TV variety show-style comedy duo “The Mole Brothers”; three hapless “Unpopular With Women Brothers” who look unrelated; three pretty young women first identified as “Babbling Hot Spring Vixens”; a nerdy high school teacher-cum-DJ involved with his star student; and sitcom-style “Homeroom!!!” chapters from a Dadaist school life. Plus peppy choreographed dream sequences, unidentifiable puppet-or-CGI creatures, Cronenberg-style queasiness, and UFO visitations. Delirious, disarming pic is sharp in all tech and design departments.

Funky Forest: The First Contact

Japan

Production

A Phantom Films production. Produced by Harada Norihisa, Itou Taiti, Wadakura Kazutosi Directed, written, edited by Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, Shin'ichiro Miki.

Crew

Camera (color), Hiroshi Machida, Kousuke Matsushima; music supervisor, Midorikawa Tooru; production designer, Shinji Inoue. Reviewed at San Francisco Indiefest, Feb. 12, 2006. (Also in Yubari Film Festival.) Running time: 150 MIN.

With

Susumu Terajima, Tadanobu Asano, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazue Fukiishi, Ryo Kase, Hideaki Anno, Kanji Tsuda, Mariko Takahashi.
Want Entertainment News First? Sign up for Variety Alerts and Newsletters!
Post A Comment 0