’69 film pro­vokes and en­trances

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Gary Gold­stein

For best en­joy­ment, or at least ba­sic com­pre­hen­sion, of the 4K restora­tion of writer-di­rec­tor Toshio Mat­sumoto’s outré 1969 melo­drama “Fu­neral Pa­rade of Roses,” the film must be viewed through the prism of that era’s ex­per­i­men­tal wave of cin­ema. Com­pare this kicky, black-and-white piece to any­thing even re­motely con­tem­po­rary or main­stream and you may be lost, or glued to your watch.

The film’s plot, such as it is, pits Ed­die (Ja­panese en­ter­tainer Peter, then a teenager), a young Tokyo trans woman (or “gay boy” or “rose”), against an older, drag club madam (Osamu Oga­sawara) for the love of the bar’s drug-deal­ing owner (Yoshio Tsuchiya). It all some­how morphs into an “Oedi­pus Rex” take­off that ends in un­bear­able vi­o­lence.

But there’s so much more here, and some­times far less, as Mat­sumoto mashes au­dio-vis­ual styles, tones and gim­micks into a brash kalei­do­scope of filmic pos­si­bil­ity. For much of the movie, its grab bag of showy scenes and vivid pop im­ages could likely be shuff led to lit­tle nar­ra­tive im­pact.

A re­ported in­flu­ence on Stan­ley Kubrick’s “A Clock­work Orange,” the movie echoes the work of such film­mak­ers as Andy Warhol, Jean-Luc Go­dard, Luis Buñuel and avant-garde pi­o­neer Jonas Mekas, who is name-checked here. Ul­ti­mately, “Roses’ ” an­ar­chic can­vas of sex, drugs and des­per­ate liv­ing suc­ceeds in pro­vok­ing and en­tranc­ing, if not ex­actly en­ter­tain­ing.

“Fu­neral Pa­rade of Roses.” In Ja­panese with English sub­ti­tles. Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 45 min­utes. Play­ing: The Cine­fam­ily at the Silent Movie Theatre, Los An­ge­les.

Cine­li­cious Pic­tures

THE JA­PANESE ex­per­i­men­tal film di­rected by Toshio Mat­sumoto is cen­tered on a love tri­an­gle.

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