Cold Fish 冷たい熱帯魚 (2011)

Cold Fish Murata Welcomes You

Cold Fish is Sion Sono’s award winning film loosely based on the real-life exploits of serial killer couple Gen Sekine and his ex-wife Hiroko Kazama who perpetrated Tokyo’s notorious 1993 “Saitama serial murders of dog lovers”. It received its premiere at the 2010 Venice Film Festival and is a genuinely brilliant film.

Shamoto (Fukikoshi) runs a small tropical fish shop with his second wife Taeko (Kagurazaka) and rebellious daughter Mitsuko (Kajiwara). One day Mitsuko is caught shoplifting but an intervention by a friendly man named Murata (Denden) prevents the store manager from pressing charges. As it turns out Murata also runs a tropical fish store with his wife Aiko (Kurosawa). Won over by Murata’s charm Shamoto and his unhappy family form a bond of friendship with him and Mitsuko even goes to work for him. What Shamoto does not realise is that Murata is not as friendly as he seems to be and soon finds there are many dark and twisted secrets behind the smile and he is powerless to resist.

Murata (Denden) Bullies Shamamoto (Fukikoshi) in Cold Fish

Cold Fish like many of Sion Sono’s films flits between horror, satire, thriller, and comedy. It is heavy on gore and black humour with writing and acting that perverts believable drama into a crazy, enjoyable, and moving ride.

The story can happen anywhere people exist. Shamoto’s family are believably unhappy, with each individual wrapped up in their own lives with Taeko sour from a life she feels is wasted, Shamoto unable to express his true feelings and Mitsuko contemptuous of her parents.

Shamoto is one part hapless and mostly meek. He is a simple man unable to deal with adversity and the absurdity of life. His inability to deal with life sees him retreat into his dreams just to escape conflicts that might be solved if he was more proactive and was able to communicate his real feelings to his family.

Fukikoshi develops sympathy by capturing the good-natured but timid nature of Shamoto who wants to avoid the ugly reality of life. Despite his best intentions he cannot overcome his meekness. As the film progresses he goes from looking affable but ineffective to genuinely horrified, squeezing himself into corners out of sight of the horror. Through Murata’s insistent bullying Shamoto reveals his pent up anger and when he snaps the rage is recognisable.

Equally recognisable is the bitterness and resentment that Taeko feels. It is portrayed by Kagurazaka in the curl of distaste her mouth takes when her husband speaks or the poisonous looks she shoots Mitsuko. At one point her relationship with Shamoto had romance and they understood one another as individuals and shared dreams.

Shamoto (Fukikoshi) and Taeko (Kagurazaka) in the Planetarium in Cold Fish Continue reading “Cold Fish 冷たい熱帯魚 (2011)”

Sion Sono Season

Sion Sono Season Banner

It’s a short season and it features a silly banner but I don’t care. This is a quick biography of Sion Sono and I hope to review some of his works in the coming week. I want to write about a number of directors and since this is Sion Sono Season he goes first.

Sion Sono has had a varied career starting as an avant-garde poet before ditching a course at Hosei University for a career in underground filmmaking although he never turns his back on poetry which will recur in his early films. In 1987 he won the Grand Prize at the PIA Film Festival (PFF) for his film A Man’s Hanamichi. The PFF is designed to discover and support new filmmakers and following his win he received a fellowship with PIA and wrote, directed and starred in numerous films which contained underachievers, serial killers and other outsiders. These films regularly toured the international festival circuit and helped establish his name.

It wasn’t until the 2001 film Suicide Circle when he truly became a well-known cult director. Suicide Circle (which has special effects by Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura) is a satirical film dealing with pop culture, mass suicides, and a bewildered middle aged police detective played by Ryo Ishibashi (Audition) trying to understand it all while being assailed by deviants and horrific sights that challenge his perceptions. Following this success he expanded on the film’s world by taking it into different mediums such as novels and manga and a belated sequel named Noriko’s Dinner Table which was made in 2006.

Noriko's Dinner Table

Suicide Circle was a massive success and has set the tone for the rest of his films. Despite trying a gangster film (Hazard – 2005) and comedy-drama (Into a Dream – 2005), both starring Joe Odagiri (Adrift in Tokyo, Bright Future), he has continued to explore the darker side of modern Japan with a series of extreme titles including the ero-guro film Strange Circus (2005) which features sexual and mental abuse and incest, the aforementioned Noriko’s Dinner Table which deals with alienation and suicide, Exte: Hair Extensions (2007) which stars Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale, Shikoku, Kill Bill) and is a far more mainstream J-horror title and then Love Exposure (2008) which stars Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides) and can only be described as a religio-psycho-sexual mindmelt.

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride

Continue reading “Sion Sono Season”

Cold Fish DVD and Blu-Ray Release

One of the names creeping up regularly on this blog a lot is Sion Sono because he is a prolific film-maker hard at work at making the provocative films with outrageous themes, scenes, violence, dark humour and gore. So it is understandable that I was very excited when I got information about the forthcoming release of Cold Fish by Third Window Films on the 27th of June:
Cold Fish DVD Case
‘Cold Fish’ – Director Sion Sono (Japan 2010, 145 minutes, Horror)

Third Window Films is pleased to announce the release of ‘Cold Fish’, Sion Sono’s grusome follow up to ‘Love Exposure’, as a 2 disc DVD set / Blu-ray on June 27th, 2011

Technical Details
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with removable English subtitles

Blu-Ray with 5.1 DTS HD Sound / DVD with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound

Exclusive interview with author Jake Adelstein, reporter on the original ‘Saitama Dog-Lovers Serial Murders’ case, the inspiration behind the film

Two exclusive interviews with scriptwriter Yoshiki Takahashi on the creation of both the film and original artwork

Trailer / Trailers of other Third Window Films releases

Synopsis
Inspired by and loosely based on the real-life exploits of serial killer couple Gen Sekine and his ex-wife Hiroko Kazama (the perpetrators of Tokyo’s notorious 1993 “Saitama serial murders of dog lovers” killings), ‘Cold Fish’ is a psychotic cavalcade of sex, violence and comedy

Shamoto runs a small tropical fish shop. His second wife, Taeko, does not get along with his daughter, Mitsuko, and this worries him. One day Mitsuko is caught shoplifting at a grocery store. There they meet a friendly man named Murata, who helps to settle things between Mitsuko and the store manager. Since Murata also runs a tropical fish shop, Shamoto establishes a bond with him and they become friends; Mitsuko even begins working for Murata and living at his house. What Shamoto doesn t know, however, is that Murata hides many dark secrets behind his friendly face. He sells cheap fish to his customers for high prices with his artful lies. If anyone detects his fraud or refuses to go along with his money-making schemes, they’re murdered and their bodies disposed of by Murata and his wife in grisly ways.

Shamoto is suddenly taken in by Murata s tactics, and by the time he realizes that Murata is insane, and a serial killer who has made over fifty people disappear, he is powerless to do anything about it. But now Mitsuko is a hostage at Murata s home, and Shamoto himself has become the killer s unwilling accomplice. Cruel murders gradually cripple his mind and finally the ordinary man is being driven to the edge of the abyss.

Based somewhat on a true story (read Jake Adelstein’s Tokyo Vice for insight into that particular case) Cold Fish follows Love Exposure and precedes Guilty of Romance, the three films forming Sion Sono’s Hate Saga. For any fan of Japanese cinema, Sono’s work has to be some of the most exciting to come out of the country and it seems like Cold Fish will continue this tradition as it looks to be another cult classic according to a stream of positive reviews and successful festival appearances.

This is the first DVD release of the film in the world even beating the Japanese release. The extras look brilliant, especially the interview with Jake Adelstein who wrote the excellent Tokyo Vice, so if you have any taste for provocative Japanese films go and buy this.

Cold fish can be pre-ordered from Amazon.