It's cracked and whacked, strange, zany and just plain weird! It's festival fave Funky Forest: The First Contact, and it's just become available today on a 2-disc DVD from VIZ Pictures.
Director Katsuhito Ishii, aided and abetted by directors Shunichiro Miki and ANIKI, has created a collection of 21 mad-cap vignettes. While the P.R. materials I received put it in the tradition of Monty Python, it reminded me more of Saturday Night (Live) in it's heyday, its first three seasons from 1975-1978.
Ishii's work most familiar to Americans is his direction of the animated portion of Kill Bill, Vol. 1. He's also directed the live action features The Taste of Tea (also available on DVD from VIZ Pictures) and Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl. Several of the actors in those films also appear in Funky Forest.
Here's a sampling of what you're in store for:
- The Mole Brothers, a white clad comedy duo that reappear periodically throughout the film
- Guitar Brother, an ongoing story of three brothers (the middle one plays the guitar). While the two older bros desperately seek female companionship, the younger one is an overweight white pre-teen who has a thing for Snickers candy bars.
- A strange dance-off at a beach that features huge speakers and a tall animated female figure with large breasts shaped like missiles. Very Fellini-esque.
- The Bubbling Hot Springs Vixens, a trio of comely young women who tell increasingly outrageous stories as they become more and more drunk
- Homeroom, a number of hilarious skits in a classroom whose students range from young girls through middle-aged men.
- Lots more music, dancing, and comedy
- A transcendent scene in a forest that closes the film
I'm giving Funky Forest an ACF rating of 3 out of 4 stars, a solid recommendation. But keep the following in mind:
1. If you're primarily a right brain person, clued into creativity and open to experimentation, you'll probably rate it higher.
2. If, on the other hand, you're a rational, logical, analytical left-brained S.O.B., you'll probably find it hard to get the humor. But, you may just be the type to benefit most from it's free-wheeling, mind-blowing madness. So give it a try.
The extras, which I've listed below with some comments, are outstanding, easily meriting 3.5 out of 4 stars.
The 2-disc DVD package of Funky Forest offers a fun film, great extras and is an outstanding bargain.
Running time: approx. 150 minutes
Format: 16:9 widescreen
Japanese language with English Subtitles
- Japanese original trailers
- The Making of Funky Forest: "Into the world of the Unfathomable Forest" - a great behind the scenes look at the process of creating the film; over an hour long and well worth watching
- "Katsuichi's Dance" Secret Treasure (A Choreography Lesson Video) - a look at the development of a parody of a Noh dance
- "The Transfer Student is Here!" - storyboards for an animated segment