is sort of like Gamera meets the Island of Misfit Toys. It is also a Christmas
movie, because why wouldn’t it be? Pet turtles go kaiju in Love & Peace (trailer here), the glam-rock fable only Sion Sono could
tell, which screens during the 2015 San Diego Asian Film Festival.
Suzuki once harbored punk rock dreams, but now he is a bullied salaryman with a
balky intestinal track, laboring for a decidedly unhip music publisher. For
some reason, his severely outsiderish co-worker Yuko Terashima might kind of
like him, but Suzuki is incapable of acting on his massive crush. The only
bright spot in his life is Pikadon, the baby turtle he co-dependently dotes on.
However, when Suzuki’s nasty coworkers shame him into giving Pikadon the flush,
it nearly crushes his spirit.
Pikadon goes, swooshing through the sewers to a subterranean shelter for
cast-off pets and toys. There he enjoys the protection of a kindly tinkerer,
who fixes them up and gives them the power of speech through his magic pills.
However, the old man (gee, who does he sound like?), accidently gives him the
wrong Matrix pill. Instead of the
power of speech, Pikadon is now able to grant his former owner’s wishes, but
each time he grows in proportion to the significance of the wish fulfilled.
From there, things gets strange—and big.
L&P is sort of the
Christmas movie David Bowie never made with Sid and Marty Krofft. It is a
strangely earnest and innocent film, yet Sono still manages to make redemption
slightly creepy. Be that as it may, if you like turtles, this is the film for
fact, the old school practical Pikadon effects are wonderfully charming and
nostalgic. Kumiko Asȏ is also impressively subtle and down to earth as
Terashima, sort of like a post-punk version of Marcie in Peanuts. Toshiyuki Nishida similarly balances kindliness and
anti-social weirdness quite adeptly as the old man. However, there is
over-the-top and there is Hiroki Hasegawa’s Suzuki, or “Wild Ryo,” as he comes
to be known, who is equally annoying during his put-upon doormat days as he is
as an egotistical sell-out rocker.
Regardless, you come to a Sion Sono film for
some spectacle and he delivers accordingly. Although they are radically
different films, L&P is much like
Tokyo Tribe in that both are dazzlingly
accomplished feats of art direction. Mise-en-scéne doesn’t get much more insane
than his recent films. He certainly isn’t repeating himself either. Sono even
proves he is quite the songwriter, penning tunes that are equally catchy
performed as grungy protest anthems or cheesy power ballads. For Sono’s fans it
is his latest must-see film, while for general cult film enthusiasts, it could
become a Christmas tradition, along with Santa Stinks and Black Christmas. Recommended
for kaiju connoisseurs as well, Love
& Peace screens this coming Monday (11/11) and Wednesday (11/11), as
part of this year’s SDAFF.
Labels: Japanese Cinema, Kaiju movies, SDAFF '15, Sion Sono