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Big Bang Love, Juvenile A

Homoerotic prison life acts as an inscrutable metaphor for what's wrong with modern Japan in "Big Bang Love, Juvenile A," the latest outing from Takashi Miike. Clarity is not the prolific Japanese director's strongest characteristic, but despite being impenetrable, this labyrinthine effort about a murder in a prison eventually reveals a soulful center.

Jun Ariyoshi - Ryuhei Matsuda Shiro Kazuki - Masanobu Ando

Homoerotic prison life acts as an inscrutable metaphor for what’s wrong with modern Japan in “Big Bang Love, Juvenile A,” the latest outing from Takashi Miike. Clarity is not the prolific Japanese director’s strongest characteristic, but despite being highly impenetrable, this labyrinthine effort about a murder in a prison eventually reveals a soulful center. Unfortunately, few auds will ever know as Miike seems determined to alienate even the most indulgent of viewers. Regardless, arty appearance and helmer’s rep will make this a natural for fests.

After making auds jump through challenging hoops — a Godardian prologue and a modern dance performance — Miike obliquely sketches out, one misplaced fragment at a time, the story of two prisoners who are simultaneously incarcerated for two unrelated murders.

Jun (Ryuhei Matsuda) has brutally killed a customer who picked him up at the gay bar in which he worked. The other arrival is the heavily tattooed and highly combative Shiro (Masanobu Ando), who has repeatedly been in trouble with the law since his childhood.

Shiro takes a paternal and protective interest in Jun, even initiating brawls to protect the freshfaced prisoner. Unsurprisingly, Shiro’s aggression makes him a target; however, when he is killed, authorities are stunned to discover that the man sitting on

Shiro’s strangled corpse is Jun.

The rest of the yarn is relatively straightforward, but expressed in a manner designed to further test the rigor of auds. Science-fiction elements such as a rocket ship and Mexican pyramid are introduced, but their significance is anybody’s guess. At what appears to be the nexus of the piece, yarn occasionally hints at the prevalence of child abuse in Japan. In a device that Godard would probably enjoy, the investigator’s questions are silent and are expressed as superimposed titles over the faces of the interrogated.

Miike’s helming is assured even if his meaning is rarely transparent. Production design often recalls the spaciousness of experimental theater, but pic is an ongoing visual treat. Perfs are as engaging as the film allows. English title is not referred to directly, but is clearly a homoerotic reference. Original Japanese title means: “The Love of 4,600 million years” and is incorrectly translated on print as “460 Million.”

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A


Production: A Big Bang Love, Juvenile A Film partners production, in association with Excellent Film Co., Maki Production Co., Shochiku Co. Ltd., Eisei Gekijo Co. Ltd. International sales: Shochiku Co. Ltd., Tokyo.) Produced by Takeshi Watanabe, Shiro Sasaki. Directed by Takashi Miike. Screenplay, Masa Nakamura, based on the novel 'A Ereji' by Masaki Ato.

Crew: Camera (color, Super 16 to 35mm), Masahito Kaneko; editor, Yasushi Shimamura; production designer, Takashi Sasaki; costume designer, Michiko Kitamura. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 11, 2006. Running time: 84 MIN.

With: Jun Ariyoshi - Ryuhei Matsuda Shiro Kazuki - Masanobu Ando

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