Release date: May 08th, 2011
Duration: 90 mins.
Director: Yoshimasa Ishibashi
Starring: Takayuki Yamada (Bresson, Tamon, Ovreneli), Anna Ishibashi (Yuri), Seijun Suzuki (Tattooist), Maiko (Milocrorze), Eiji Okuda (Onsen Owner),
Milocrorze: A Love Story is a film all about love. How it shows love in its many-splendoured forms is what makes it a treat as its endlessly inventive and surprising visual execution has maximum impact and much fun.
Milocrorze follows three stories about love from the perspective of three characters and they are done in varying styles. The perspectives audiences are given include a one-eyed ronin named Tamon who inhabits a warped samurai drama, an unconventional relationship therapist named Kumagai Bresson, and Ovreneli Vreneligare, a man-child at the mercy of a mysterious woman’s whims.
All but one of the characters is played entirely by Takayuki Yamada and he approaches the roles as caricatures through which he displays loud emotions.
Fresh from being uber-cool while working on Miike samurai movie 13 Assassins, he tunes himself perfectly to deliver massively different personalities with lovesick and shy Ovreneli completely removed from Tamon who blazes with bushido pride as he searches for his girl, and Bresson who sweats with absurd levels of 70s misogyny and cheesy macho cool. The film is effectively built around Yamada inhabiting these very different characters and it is an impressive display of his acting skills as shuffles, slices and dices, and dances across the screen with glee and quite a lot of enjoyable mugging to bring each personality to life.
Reflecting a change in each of the personalities is a change in visual design as it looks like CGI artists, hair stylists, set designers and costumiers were given the green light to go to town in imagining these characters and the worlds they inhabit. There is a gleeful mixing and mashing of time periods and aesthetic as Bresson’s chintzy disco world rubs up against Tamon’s techno-jidaigeki and the childish Ovreneli sections features cartoonishly oversized sets and props to emphasize the childlike nature of a boy experiencing first love. The use of colours is intense and the character’s costume colours and shapes just as noitceable.
One of the many highlights in a film of constant invention is a slow-motion fight through a bordello caught in an extended tracking shot. Tamon’s story, almost a colourful and zany retread of the 1966 film Irezumi, has the sort of choreography that shows masterful controlled chaos as director Ishibashi gets a huge cast in a complex location full of objects to enact a frenetic battle. It rivals the corridor fight in Oldboy, but with some sneaky edits and flashier costumes and more beautiful ladies. The actors, amidst the carnage, pose and grimacw every so often like figures from an ukiyo-e depicting figures from kabuki theatre to cement the style.
The film has that Survive Style 5+ outlandishness and colour that I remember being a lot more common in the early 2010s when it was made. It could also be said that there is a bit of a throwback to the 60s psychedelia – watch out for a cameo by Seijun Suzuki, master of stylistic changes, as Gazen, the tattoo master! The roots of its madcap approach comes from director Yoshimasa Ishibashi who has a background in the Kyupi Kyupi artist collective and had previously worked on the wonderfully demented Vermilion Pleasure Night, a sketch comedy show that earned global cult status thanks to its lead female comedians who applied themselves to many bizarre situations and skits directed by Ishibashi like The Fuccons, about a family of Americans who live in Tokyo who just happened to be mannequins (which you can see a clip of at the bottom of my おもしろいですね page). He brings together many tones with great control and there is a verve in his direction that keeps things fresh.
Indeed, the segments are separate stories but focus on love and with the bright tone and spirited rhythm, they segue into each other with perfection. If you visualised the taste and sensation of dumping a packet of sherbert in your mouth, you get an idea as the screen fizzes and tingles and pops with sharp colours and styles. While it can be said that the female characters are props, the film manages to capture the delightful feelings the magical effect of love can inspire in people and how it affects the way they see the world through charming and hyper-artistic visual and aural elements. Its stories will take you out of your everyday existence and throw you into a weird an wonderful world where everything is exaggerated and this exaggeration breathes life onto the screen.