Wednesday, August 26, 2009

[Japanese Film Festival] The Blind Beast (Môjû)

Seeing Evil

Since this is partly a blog, if I may indulge in a personal story and experience involving a touchy feely blind man, that while watching this show somewhat reminded me of him. I was with a female friend minding own business at a train station near the West. I left her at the ticketing counter while I answered nature's call. When I returned, there was this blind man talking to her, and out from nowhere, a hand shot out and grabbed her arm. I wondered what the heck was going on of course, only for her to assure me that he was just asking for directions, and needed help.

I didn't buy his story naturally, and especially not when his hand started to roam along her arm. Suspicious and not liking this blind dude, I reached out and to my surprise had to exert considerable force to pry his grip on my friend’s arm, and he reached out for mine instead. He pleaded that he needed someone to guide him home, and from the address given, it wasn't that far away. So we decided to escort him rather than dumping him there, though along the way he had this iron-vice grip on my arm, as if punishing me for disallowing him the touch of my female friend. To cut it short, we let him be along his way at the foot of his block. I was left with an arm with fingernails dug right in, and a supposed neighbour told us that the blind man is a little crazed, and to ignore him. Who knows what we would have found should we have escorted him to his doorstep, probably find a studio like that in the film!

Which was nothing short of amazing, and I think many in the audiences gasped at the audacious sculptures of body parts handing from the walls, like a 3D police photo-fit containing limbs, facial features, and boobs of all shapes and sizes. Eiji Finakoshi plays the blind sculptor Michio, who is looking to transcend his art by seeking a muse with whom he can explore the female body, and together with his acute sense of touch, translate the intricacies and sensual female form to clay. The film opens with his visit to a photography exhibition featuring the model Aki (Mado Midori), and through her narration, there’s some strange connection being felt when Michio starts to fondle a sculpture of hers.

Almost like Psycho, Michio lives under the confines of his small house cum studio, under the close supervision of his mother (played by Noriko Sengoku), who go to great lengths in order to care for her disabled son, and that included conspiring with him to kidnap his Aki to become his new muse and inspiration to create that perfect artwork. And from that point on, it’s the relationship and dynamics between these three main characters within a constricted space that elevates this film with common sensibilities and rivalry that any layman can identify with.

As the proverbial “they” always say, trouble will brew when there are two women in the house. Aki’s presence is typical of a daughter-in-law who has trouble with both the son and his mother. There’s this constant tussle between the two women to vie for the guy’s attention, whose blindness is almost like a metaphor that we are always put in no good a position where we sometimes fail apply good sense and judgement, and allow emotions to take control. Here, Michio’s lust often gives Aki the advantage, who is constantly seeking some means of escaping her ordeal as a kidnapped victim of art. The actors here all put in top notch performances, especially Mako Midori in her role shifting from victim to perpetrator, from helplessness to the gaining of the upper hand, scheming in applying the divide and conquer strategy to wedge jealousy and suspicion between her captors.

The last act was a descent into the strange and weird when the Stockholm Syndrome kicked in and comes full of touchy-feely scenes, with Michio using sexual violence to finally overpower his muse, and of course had plenty to classify the film under gore and horror. In fact, when the last scenes were into their full swing, you can here the yelps of disbelief of the gory obvious that would unfold, especially when director Yasuzo Masumura, who drew upon this Rampo Edogawa story, never failed to remind you of the razor thin line between pleasure and pain. While at times comical with the words of expression used, there’s enough here that would make you squirm, and this descent into madness is likely to stick in your mind long after the end credits roll.

Nonetheless this film had impressed me with its huge, surreal artistic objects, and won me over with the middle act, which became the make-or-break. The last act seemed to be undoubtedly classifying this as a cult film for its shock value, though it does put out a statement of the lengths that some would go in order to achieve that level of artistic self-actualization, which comes with pain and sacrifice.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...