A spiral design spins dizzily. It's replaced by a spinning disk. These two continue in perfect alternation until the end: a spiral design, a disk. Each disk is labelled and can be read as ... See full summary »
A rhythmically edited alphabet composed of street and shop signs shot in New York City and other elements is gradually replaced by repeated seemingly abstract shots in this influential structuralist film.
A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, ... See full summary »
With full disturbing and weirdo graphic plus sexual scenes, Flaming Creatures is one of most daring and controversial film of all time, According to Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures is a comedy in a haunted music studio.
Near a remote Buddhist monastery, a young man falls in love with his sister and gets her pregnant. After a monk finds out, the young man becomes an assistant to a master sculptor, only to proceed to complicate matters with his affairs.
F*cking crazy. Let me just try to describe what I just saw, let me just try.
Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets is the first experimental feature film by Shuji Terayama, a poet, playwright, avant-garde director who was also an avid boxer (his love of boxing is referenced several times in this movie, for example). It follows a nameless young boy, whom Terayama calls Watashi ("Me"), and whose family is a complete dysfunctional wreck. His sister has an unhealthy relationship with her pet rabbit, his grandma is a shoplifter, and his frustrated father takes "Me" to the whorehouse.
The story is completely non-linear, interfused with strange phantasmagorical collages, music videos and surreal imagery. A lot of scenes are colored in nauseating filters of green, red and pink, which are even more annoying in occasional motion sickness-inducing shaky cam scenes. There's also a scene of random people longing to find soul mates and putting a newspaper ad. Another repeated element are "Me"'s day dreams, which see him trying to fly away on a plane, but his hopes of getting somewhere are ruined in the scene where he calls out the country of Japan for a moral decline, and his fiery plane comes crashing down to earth.
The message of the film is presented bluntly in its title. Terayama tells the academics that their approach to this film simply isn't needed. A film should be experienced, not analyzed, and people should spend time on the streets instead of spending it at a cinema or reading books (this message would be more understandable if city life were as crazy as a Terayama film). This message is featured everywhere in the film. Quotes from famous thinkers graffiti'd on the walls. An intellectual in a restaurant boring his female companion to death by talking about literature (and later we're given a more entertaining take on books from a local prostitute). The recurring riddle "What goes one way in and two ways out?", which we're lead to believe the answer to is something deep and intellectual, happens to be revealed simply as "a pair of trousers".
Terayama also breaks the fourth wall a lot to establish an anti-cinema approach to filmmaking. The movie begins with an uncomfortably long black screen, when suddenly "Me" appears, asking the audience what they're doing sitting in front of a black screen, and then mocks them because they're hidebound in a theatre while he's free to do whatever he wants, like light a cigarette. The ending is about 10 minutes long; in it, the entire crew is gathered in a single shot while "Me" holds a speech about the boundaries of cinema ("Polanski, Nagisa Oshima, Antonioni... All that is just a world that disappears when the light is turned on"). After that, the camera trails the faces of everyone involved with the film in close-up and the film fades to black.
I forgot to mention the countless locker room scenes where "Me" and the other boys discuss masturbation techniques and how sports ball sizes are parallel to virility. I guess these scenes are meant to portray "Me"'s frustrations related to masculinity. Later his locker room friends gang rape his sister under the shower and we're subjected to a short musical sequence spoofing Ken Takakura, a famous macho movie star known for yakuza films.
Regarding the soundtrack (by Tokyo Kid Brothers and J. A. Seazer, who appears as a long-haired poet), it's awesome. Probably one of the best movie soundtracks I've heard in a while. It's like a mix of nursery rhymes and post-hippie psychedelic rock. It's crazy. One of the musical scenes starts with a burning American flag which reveals a couple having sex and youngsters raising chaos on the streets. After that, a humorous scene where a young girl protests because people took her phallic punching bag off the streets explodes into an angst-ridden, energetic song "Who is it for?" But by far the catchiest and the most radical tune is what I presume is called "Mother", which even borders on Oedipus' complex (another running theme in Terayama's films). The imagery the song is set to is an American comic (the style reminds me of Robert Crumb) where a father has sex with his daughter after he sees her masturbating, after which the mother asks her son if he jerks off. Trying to follow this comic while reading the song lyric-subtitles while trying to enjoy the song is a complete sensory assault and it's hard to find anything similar. Did I mention the short musical interlude that features a group of schoolgirls casually stripping on a farm, singing how they'll become prostitutes?
The movie, as I described it, seems completely crazy, fun and incomprehensible, but unfortunately the scenes of true cinematic weirdness are sandwiched between long scenes of dubious importance which border on tedium, and overall the film is largely undeserving of its runtime. I'll give it a higher rating just for the kick-ass soundtrack though.
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