The Warped Forest

A strong candidate for weirdest movie of the year, "The Warped Forest" is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes dumb, frequently grotesque but never dull excursion into a surreal parallel world where tiny people and giants coexist alongside puppet-like creature-thingies.

With:
With: Fumi Nikaido, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Rinko Kikuchi, Mikan Ai Makino, Ryu Morioka, Mako Satoh, Atsushi Yoshioka, Tsubasa Fukusawa.

A strong candidate for weirdest movie of the year, “The Warped Forest” is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes dumb, frequently grotesque but never dull excursion into a surreal parallel world where tiny people and giants coexist alongside puppet-like creature-thingies. This self-funded solo directing debut by Japanese cult figure Shunichiro Miki (“Funky Forest: The First Contact”) will leave just about everyone baffled, but doesn’t lack for entertainment value. Fests should check it out.

Initially, the pic appears normal as three drinking buddies talk about a strange forest they’ve heard about. Switching from black-and-white to color, Miki zooms into the woods where fruit grows from the limbs of alabaster-skinned nymphs and a nearby village is home to eccentrics including full-sized baker’s wife Yuppo (Rinko Kikuchi, “Babel”) and thumb-sized pregnant lady Makko (Mako Satoh). The passing parade of curiosities includes furry critters oozing goop and a punk girl toting a ray-gun. Beautifully designed and decorated, this one-of-a-kind pic makes no apparent sense, but is compelling in the strangest of ways. Some viewers may feel that somehow it all adds up at the end — sort of. Effects work and other tech credits are topnotch.

The Warped Forest

Japan

Production: A Shunichiro Miki Office production in association with AOI Promotion. (International sales: Nice Rainbow, Tokyo.) Produced by Yasuhito Nakae, Motohiro Kumakura. Directed by Shunichiro Miki. Screenplay, Miki, Yuuka Oosumi.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD), Tetsuro Enjoji, Noboru Iwasaki; editors, Aya Kitazawa, Daisuke Miyazaki, Tomomasa Sano; music, Oyagi Nobuyuki; production designer, Shinji Inoue; costume designer, Yuriko Fujiwara. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival, Oct. 15, 2011. Running time: 77 MIN.

With: With: Fumi Nikaido, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Rinko Kikuchi, Mikan Ai Makino, Ryu Morioka, Mako Satoh, Atsushi Yoshioka, Tsubasa Fukusawa.

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