though filming has not even begun on the questionable movie adaptation of Shades of Grey, Hitoshii Matsumoto has
already mashed-up the S&M melodrama genre beyond human recognition. From Japan, we have a cautionary, surreal meta-meta
postmodern bondage conspiracy tale, while Hollywood is banking on a dude who
wears grey ties. How quaint. In the mean time, Matsumoto subverts
perversion throughout R100 (trailer here), which screens as
part of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Katayama is a drab and depressed working drone who needs to unwind a
little. He thinks he has found just the
ticket when he joins a mysterious club for submissive men. At first, he gets the release he is seeking
when the black-clad women meet him at their scheduled rendezvouses to beat him
about and smash his sushi rolls (that’s not a euphemism). However, when they start showing up at his
home and work, matters turn a distinctly charcoal shade of grey.
each dominatrix escalates their encounters, Katayama starts to fear for his
life and the safety of his young son and father-in-law. Then things get really weird, but not do
bother complaining about logical inconsistencies. The film will provide that commentary itself.
speaking, there is no nudity or sex in R100,
but it is absolutely, positively not for kids.
The title is a play on the Japanese motion picture rating system that
could be roughly translated as NC-100 for American audiences—and not for
nothing. However, the film definitely
seems to suggest you are begging for trouble if you go out looking for
something on the deviant side of life.
R100 careens so defiantly over the
top, it becomes a dicey business parsing its symbolic layers and potential
take-away teachings. If any of this film
sounds problematic to you, then you should probably avoid R100 because there is way more of whatever it is than we’ve covered
so far. On the other hand, cult cinema connoisseurs
looking for a new and distinctive head trip will find it here. Imagine Eyes
Wide Shut transported to the world of Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber and you will start to get the idea.
Omori perfectly anchors the film as the existentially put-upon Katayama. Just looking at him sort of makes you want to
smack him alongside the head. However,
he handles the character’s strange evolution with understated power. As his son Arashi, Haruki Nishimoto distinguishes
himself an unusually engaging young actor.
Fortunately, his classmates will not be able to see R100 for a while and hopefully he will not have to take much
taunting over it in later years.
R100 pushes the envelope, but it never skitters into
irredeemably disturbing territory.
Indeed, at some point the game-playing ends and the macro insanity takes
over. Although decidedly one-sided,
there is also some decent fight choreography in the first act. Recommended for exclusively adventurous
viewers (but rather forcefully for them), R100
screens again today (9/13) and tomorrow (9/14) as part of this year’s TIFF.
Labels: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan Cuts '13, Naughty films, TIFF '13