KIM NEWMAN’S VIDEO DUNGEON
The very best (and, occasionally, worst) movies making their DTV debut
Ex-cop Akikazu Fujishima (Kôji Yakusho), the kind of drunken rageaholic who gets suspected of triple murders, is contacted by his ex-wife and told their 17-year-old daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) has gone missing. Suddenly obsessed with a girl he barely remembers, Fujishima sets off to find her, learning horrifying things about the playground ultra-violence and after-school sex-and-drugs binges the missing girl was mixed up in.
Tetsuya Nakashima has directed a series of films about the exhilarating, terrifying side of being a young woman in Japan — Kamikaze Girls, Memories Of Matsuko and Confessions. The World Of Kanako is his most shocking work to date, packed with challenging subject matter, agonised yet appalling characters, bursts of painful gore and startling plot twists, all told with a vivid, cut-up style that features animated inserts, flashbacks, musical interludes, homages to 1970s exploitation films and patches of sinister calm. There’s a heavy overlay of Tarantino — the soundtrack selections, the brutal pop-art main titles, characters who survive injury thanks to sheer willpower — but Nakashima also draws on the David Lynch of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and ’70s Paul Schrader descent-into-hell sagas such as Taxi Driver and Hardcore.
Yakusho is a memorably sweaty, primitive protagonist, tackling the case in much the same way Godzilla tackles a visit to Tokyo, from angry questioning of Kayako’s friends, to torturing folks left abandoned in the girl’s wake.
Any humour is pitchblack (with splatters of red) and it’s relentlessly grim in its worldview, but powerhouse performances and enthralling, inventive style make this a gripping, gutsy film noir.