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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cold Fish (2010)

If you go back in my archives you will find a review in June 2011 for director Shion Sono's previous film "Love Exposure".  http://pppatty.blogspot.com/2011/06/not-in-english-language.html

I said at the time that I had only previously seen the director's weird 2007 flick "Hair Extensions" about mutant murderous hair (!) and that I really needed to explore his back catalogue, especially the well-thought of "Suicide Club" from 2000.  Well, I never did do anything about this, although I made a point of finding a copy of the above movie which carries on his particular brand of especially Japanese weirdness.  If the story were not loosely inspired by actual events, namely the so-called "Saitami serial murders of dog lovers", one would not begin to believe the perversities on display.

Instead of dog-lovers,  tropical fish enthusiasts have been substituted -- which is pretty strange for starters.  Our so-called hero Shamoto lives with his teenaged daughter and second young wife, whom he hastily wooed and married after his first wife's death; other than fish, his main interest is in the peace and tranquility that the local planetarium provides.  The two women hate each other with a vengeance and periodically come to violent blows.  They live and work in a small tropical fish store which Shamoto's wife faithfully tends, while the surly daughter shows her contempt both for the 'whore' that her father has married and for her dad as well.  One evening they receive a call that the youngster has been caught shoplifting and they hie off to the shop to try to resolve this embarrassing situation.  The shop manager is intransigent that the police should be called, but a persuasive customer called Yukio Murata convinces him to show lenience.  Murata is the proprietor of a rather swish tropical fish emporium and insists that the family, there and then, come with him to view his spectacular new species.  Partly because they are grateful that he has intervened on their daughter's behalf and partly because they are genuinely interested, they go with him.  And so begins a very bloody saga of manipulation and intimidation by the imposing and charismatic Murata.

For a start he convinces the pair to let the daughter come to live and work at his emporium together with an assortment of scantily-clad wayward young girls, looked after by his own attractive and nubile wife Aiko.  He next not so much seduces but rapes Shamoto's ripe wife, who it turns out actually likes a bit of masochistic violence. He tells her that he can make her husband rich if he becomes a partner in his enterprises, and eager to please her, Shamoto arranges to meet with him. At his office he finds Murata's slimy lawyer and a would-be client whom they convince to give them 10 million yen for a very exotic specimen.  Although the client is dubious, he is impressed with Shamoto's appearance and earnestness and hands over the dosh; no sooner is this done than Aiko brings in a poisoned drink and the four of them stand by and watch the punter slowly die in agonising pain.  Shamoto is horrified, but he is too weak a character and too intimidated by Murata's threatening behaviour, that he not only does not contact the police, but timidly helps to wrap the body, load it in his car, and drive Murata and Aiko to their family cottage in the woods (loaded inexplicably with Christian religious statuary and icons).  There he watches in horror as the two of them joyfully dismember the corpse in rivers of blood, strip and burn the bones to ash, and cut the flesh into meat-size chunks (a treat for gore-whores) to feed to the fish in a nearby stream -- making the corpse "invisible" according to Murata, who adds that this is the 58th time he has done this.  

Worried for his wife and daughter he is truly at Murata's beck and call, and again assists with the disposal of the murdered lawyer (he had become too greedy) and his driver, who are dispatched after Aiko lures the fat and ugly man into an extended session of kinky nooky which the driver is ordered to watch. On the return journey -- after feeding the local fishes -- Murata forces Shamoto to have sex with Aiko. As he climaxes, something snaps and he stabs her in the neck, then turning the force of his repressed fury on her husband.  He returns the wounded woman to the cottage to dispose of this new corpse in the usual bloody way.  He goes home a changed and violent man, forcing himself on his wife knowing that she has been with Murata and bashing his daughter about, before telling the police to meet them at the cottage for the film's thundering and gory denouement.

I was not at all familiar with any of the actors, but they all gave themselves over to the perversities called for with apparent abandon.  I have never seen so much gratuitous nudity in a mainstream film and somewhat unusually both of the lead actresses were more generously endowed than one expects Japanese ladies to be and the director merrily exploited their buxomness.  I do not think that this movie could have been made in anything but its Far Eastern setting, so a Hollywood remake is thankfully unlikely. However, I must confess that the film certainly worked its perverse charm for me, despite its leisurely running time.  I really MUST look more closely at the director's other work... 
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