Film Festival, Jan. 29, 1994. Running time: 64 MIN.
With: Tadayuki Kataoka, Masashi Mori, Masamitsu Yamatsu, Kazuhiko Uetake, Takashi Furukawa, Tatsuo Soma, Seiji Otsuta.
Japanese experimental filmmaker Hiroyuki Oki’s “Tarch Trip” proposes the Zen answer to Gregg Araki’s “Totally F***ed Up.” Minimalist and without dialogue, pic is an uncompromisingly oblique riff on being young and gay in the shadow of the rising sun. It’s destined for double-edged reception as a bewilderingly unrewarding patience test to some and a highly personal shot of maverick creativity to others. Either way it should be fleet-footed at gay fests and avant-gardist skeds.
Shot in and around Oki’s home among the bland, boxlike architecture of provincial Aichi, pic is basically a meditative series of impressionist snapshots broadly distinguishable into two groups dictated by weather and loosely edited to form a non-linear collage.
Sunny skies dominate images of life and growth (sunflowers being the most recurrent of them), with three young friends asserting their visibility in the seemingly unaccommodating suburbs. Rain-darkened skies glower over the trio cut down to two. Its third member (the HIV-positive Tarch) is seen only in photographs.
Pic’s sexual charge and fragmented depiction of intimacy are steadily cranked up throughout, giving a coherent thread in retrospect that’s not there during viewing time. Oki mixes prolonged static glimpses with freewheeling hand-held camera work to produce a rough, undulating texture echoed on the soundtrack by a cocktail of brooding synth music and random ambient noise.