Archive for Pistol Opera


Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2013 by dcairns


Seijun Suzuki’s penultimate film PISTOL OPERA (quick — double-bill it with Tsukamoto’s BULLET BALLET!) is a perfect late film since it recapitulates elements from his past work, being a quasi-sequel to the sick and twisted and beautiful BRANDED TO KILL. Really, all it steals is the idea of an assassin’s guild where the nicknamed killers are ranked by number and take to bumping each other off to score the top spot.

(It’s even more perfect that Suzuki bowed out not with a yakuza-action-art-film, but with the purely uncategorizable left-field amazeballs of PRINCESS RACCOON, a mythological musical.)


The plot is impossible for this humble roundeye to follow, but it isn’t just a succession of stunning, colour-coordinated images, dynamically orchestrated, though it certainly is that too. The script keeps throwing up silly/beautiful ideas like the hitman whose trademark is to shoot you through the base of the skull, thus hitting your medulla oblongata and leaving a corpse with a smile. You can defeat this guy by lying flat on the ground, since his professional pride won’t allow him to kill you any other way. (And he’s played by cool dude Masatoshi Nagase from MYSTERY TRAIN, a Japanese TV star in the show Mike Yokohama, Private Eye.)

“I don’t know what’s going on but I’m loving it,” said Fiona. And then became smitten with co-star Sayoko Yamaguchi, a fashion model who spends much of the film veiled (a typically perverse move for this movie). I’m more keen on “Stray Cat,” played by Makiko Esumi (MABOROSI), whose willowy length and graceful movement are explicable by her past as a successful volleyball player. But everybody and everything in this movie is seriously cool. It’s possible a more coherent narrative would make it seem banal, since it certainly doesn’t aim at depth. I’m reminded of the fact that the precise moment when BRANDED TO KILL transcends its comic book aesthetic of “Godard and Leone team up to make a yakuza flick” is the moment when I always get confused as to who is who and who’s doing what to whom.

vlcsnap-2013-12-04-23h45m35s21“Mister Baby” himself, Masatoshi Nagase.

vlcsnap-2013-12-04-23h50m48s85Mexican-Japanese stand-off.

vlcsnap-2013-12-04-23h50m10s238I am helpless to explain the eyeball.

vlcsnap-2013-12-04-23h45m52s216High strangeness in a very ordinary industrial estate.