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I've seen over half a dozen Takashi Miike movies, so I'm aware of how bizarre his output can be, but nothing can quite prepare you for how extreme 'Visitor Q' is! In the last decade Miike has gone from straight to video crime thrillers to genre-busting arthouse cult favourites by following his own unique vision. He's also breathtakingly prolific, having completed around twenty projects since this, which was released only three years ago(!) Miike's best known movies in the last few years include the ultra-violent live action manga 'Ichi The Killer', the slow psychological thriller 'Audition', and the zany, feel good zombie musical 'The Happiness Of The Katakuris'. Those three movies alone prove he is the most exciting and innovative director working today, but 'Visitor Q' takes him to a whole new level. 'Pink Flamingos' meets 'Salo' meets reality TV on crack(?) However you try and describe this movie it just won't be adequate. When I say you just have to see it to believe it, I'm not just taking in cliches! 'Visitor Q' is shot on digital video in a pseudo-documentary style. In the opening scene we see a middle aged man (Kenicho Endo, who you might recognize from Miike's 'Dead Or Alive 2') inadvertently videotaping himself having sex with a teenage prostitute. They are in fact father and daughter. This is just the beginning of a very strange trip for the viewer! The father is a failed TV reporter who comes up with a new program idea about bullying using his own teenage son (Jun Muto), who is being victimized by his classmates and in turn abuses his own mother (Shungiku Uchida). She is secretly addicted to heroin and turns tricks to support her habit. Into this ultra-dysfunctional family comes a mysterious visitor (Kazushi Watanabe) who we are introduced to when we see him brain the father with a rock. Exactly who or what the visitor is is never explained, but his presence effects the family in various odd ways, strangely bringing them closer together. His character reminded me a bit of the messiah figures in Coffin Joe's 'Finis Hominis' or J.G. Ballard's 'The Unlimited Dream Company'. 'Visitor Q' slowly creeps up on you with images of abuse and abnormal behavior until around the three quarter mark when you are left staring slack jawed at the screen not quite believing what you are seeing! When the movie cuts between Father in the greenhouse and Mother in the kitchen with Visitor Q (I won't/can't go into details!) it's the most extraordinary sequence I've watched in any movie EVER! It goes with saying that 'Visitor Q' is not for most people, but if you appreciate the surreal and the confrontational, then this is one movie you MUST see. I think in decades to come it will regarded as a milestone and spoken of in the same breath as Bunuel, Jodorowsky, Lynch and Cronenberg.
Amazing movie playing around with the idea of reality TV, voyeurism and
even the nature of reality itself.
Among all the scenes -- of which there are many many memorable ones -- I thought the one which has the key to the movie is when the father is frantically taping the attack on his house and speaking at the same time and among a frenzy of "reporter-talk" he says,
"What are we supposed to feel?"
The key to the movie is, you are never allowed to know what you are supposed to feel. These days, in movies and TV, we are frequently "told" what to feel. Takashi Miike takes this and pulls the carpet from under all of us. he builds his film around the phenomenon of TV/media, emotion-building, exposing, exploiting... Yet keeps this tension through the movie and does not allow us for a moment to settle in our armchairs, does not for one moment let us get into that comfy zone of being told what to feel.
And hence watching this movie becomes this eerie, stressful process as noted by everyone else. Am i disgusted, indignant, amused, sympathetic, angry, confused? You are never told. You have to go through it on your own. And that is the point.
Visitor Q is hard to deal with, but I think I'd call this a masterpiece. This is an update of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema. It's often compared to Pasolini's Salò because of its shocking content, but, plot-wise, it's virtually a remake of the 1968 film, brilliantly updated and moved to modern Japan. Teorema is not Pasolini's best film, but I do consider it a great one. It is a very simple allegory. Miike expands the concept even further. A family is falling apart, and a stranger whom nobody seems to know moves into their home and starts knocking some sense into them (sometimes literally). There are some truly disturbing things in Visitor Q that few people of sound mind and body will want to sit through. Fortunately, I am not of sound mind or body. If you can take it, the film can be extremely funny, as well. And I think it actually captures something truthful not only about the decay of Japanese culture, but also the rest of the world. It just does this in the most extreme way possible. Most will probably judge that it goes too far. I thought it was amazing.
What is amazing with Miike Takashi's cinema is its ability to surprise
you. This film is no exception.
Wery aware of its medium (a DV camera) Miike uses this cheap look to touch the viewer more deeply. The credibility comes from this disturbing proximity of the image (It looks like your holiday film). Recurrent use of subjective perspective, emphasis this. But, instead of falling into a dogma-like movie, Miike pushes the plot to its most unacceptable extremities, sometimes flirting with the fantastic genre.
Miike plays with multi point of views, particularly during the opening scene, in which the girl takes photographs of her father before they sleep together. Desorienting the spectator.
What astonished me when I saw that movie, is the amount of humor (noir)that grows up during the film. Here, shocking situations (necrophilia, humiliations...) become really funny. And from an awful family relationship, the plot evolves to an objectively even worst situation, but subjectively a much better situation for the characters.
Miike plays here with conventional Hollywood vision about family and gives a much cynical and humorist meaning to unity! A really enjoyable film I would advise to open minded mature people.
Title: Visitor Q
Director: Takashi Miike
Jeez, I don't know where the heck to begin with this one. Well I guess it could be talking about Miike and how he is known for his ultra violent yakuza films or his love for shocking the heck out of his audience. But I could also talk about how he doesn't just shock for the sake of shocking. There's some context and a message that accompanies the shocking imagery. Such was the case with Visitor Q a very strange journey, but ultimately a very shocking, entertaining and thought provoking one.
The story is about this incredibly dysfunctional family in which everyone is living in their own little world. There's no unity...no love. Heck, when the movie starts out you think they are all different stories, then, slowly you start to realize that this people are all related and living in the same house hold. The mothers a heroin addict, the kid gets beat up at school by bullies, so he takes it out on his mother by violently hitting her, the fathers a failed reporter who is trying to come to grips with his premature ejaculation problem and the daughter, well shes a whore (literally!). So as you can see, this family is all over the place. In comes a strange visitor who suddenly starts to live with them, observing them from afar. Not talking much, just observing at the insanity of the everyday lives of this four crazy people.
The thing about this movie is that, yes it is very shocking with the images. In fact, I don't think you will ever see a movie as crazy as this one. I'm sure of it. Not even in your wildest craziest horniest dreams will you see the crazy things that you will see on Visitor Q. But you see, the film is not only about the shock value, for Miike makes sure that there is substance to the story, because it really touches upon some important social themes. It talks about the importance of family and love, about the role of the father as protector of the house hold, about the need of motherly love and about bullies getting whats coming to them. I think that many of the themes explored on this film are very relevant for the Japanese culture and I'm sure Miike is just venting all those frustrations out through this artistic outlet, but Ill be damned if all this social commentary isn't relevant to any other culture.
Then there's the Visitor Q. He is just someone who starts to co exist with the family and I saw him as maybe God coming down to earth and seeing this family quietly acting as only an observer, seeing what he has created and what his creation has turned into. He is almost emotionless...though he will let the family members know when they are doing something wrong by banging it into their head. Literally! Anyhows, I'm sure many people will have their own interpretation as to who the visitor is and what he represents...so Ill leave that up to you.
All in all I thought this movie was hugely entertaining, just because of the fact that I couldn't believe some of the things that were happening on the screen as I watched. Some of the things are so amusing that you cant help but laugh. At the same time, just like when you watch a film by Lynch or Cronenberg...you know there's some deep commentary on the human condition in there somewhere. So you watch...watch and interpret. Watch and try and figure it out. Amazed and shocked as you learn.
Is it a horror movie? I don't know, Its as much a horror movie as some might consider Mullholand Drive or Lost Highway a horror movie. It goes deep into those dark regions of the human mind. The insanity and crazyness of the situations can get horrifying if you look at it from that perspective. It does have some gore and blood, but Id say its more a horror movie because of the places that it takes us on a psychological level.
Though I must go down in saying that this film is certainly not for everyone. It certainly isn't for anyone who likes their movies safe and Hollywood like. Its not for those who love happy endings and that warm feeling inside. Its more for those unconventional people who like to dive deep into to the dark regions of the human psyche and are brave enough to see what they find.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
"Visitor Q" is an extraordinary motion picture. At first I was worried
by the use of video as it normally seems cheap and crappy but then I
noticed the angles that the director was employing and his abundant
technique. A framed picture is a protagonist in one scene.
I had to avert my eyes at points. I have never liked needles. MIIKE seems to love them. The use of the hypodermic syringe was used brilliantly in his Motion Picture "Audition". A classic of modern Cinema in my opinion. The creativity in Visitor Q is boundless, slightly sick, I grant you, yet assured and beautifully acted. This is a strong film. The ideas are warped and execution is masterful.
TAKASHI MIIKE is a very talented filmmaker. He bears his soul with a project like "Visitor Q" and that is rare and brave. I mentioned acting earlier and find myself asking, "How far did these actors go?"
History has shown that the first actors were prostitutes. I sometimes wonder at the actors that walk the red carpet and ask, "What has changed?" Actors will do anything a director asks. This cast must have had great faith in their Director and great trust. The acting is faultless. At one point I did make the comparison with another great film "Man Bites Dog" because I found my self-laughing at situations so real and horrifying. That feeling is strange and I'm not sure I like it.
I cannot criticize this film in anyway. I still feel that the over use of video in Motion Pictures can be cheap and nasty lookin' but "Visitor Q" proves me wrong. Imagination overcomes any limitation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Have you ever had sex with your father?
What a lovely way to greet the audience to the movie, and set the relative
mood for the next 2 hours. Any movie that begins with a daughter
prostituting herself to her father and post-coitus referring to him as
Bird due to his quick finale is bound be...shall we say,
Essentially, Visitor Q follows the daily life of a family in Japan that
quite the unique structure.
The father goes about his life quite monotonously simply trying to survive
after being raped with his own microphone while trying to interview a
of teen-age boys for his story about modern teens in Japan. That is,
a stranger decides to hit in the head with a rock while he sits at a bus
stop. And then once more while he is walking home from work. Needless to
stay, the father and stranger become great friends and the stranger moves
Mother is an ordinary house wife who simply cleans, cooks, cleans, and
obsesses that her face is perpetuously perfect by cleaning and pampering
constantly, and of course trying to protect it while being battered with a
rug beater. She is scarred up over the rest of her body and walks with a
very large limp. One would suspect that such physical abnormalities would
inhibit her part-time job as a whore. On the contrary, at least a hand
of men love her scars...which works out beautifully to help Mom feed her
heroin addiction. Oh, I almost forgot.
The son beats his mother whenever the opportunity arises. He has even
devoted a small closet in his room to various tools for beating her.
Apparently, he prefers the rug beater and the tazer. When not at school
being brutalized by his fellow school mates, he spends his time in his
indulging in his hypochondria/mysophobia.
Long story short, the vast majority of the movie is a look at the family's
decent from bad, to worse, to worst, and finally to worse than you could
ever possibly imagine worst being. SKIP THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT A SPOILER.
Both unfortunately and miraculously, the "worse than you could ever
imagine worst being" moment is the also the grand finale where the family
finally happy. This happiness comes in the form of Mom discovering her
of lactation while the strange quest (whom we can assume to one Visitor
watches crossed-legged with an umbrella below her. Mother's lactating
is paralleled by Dad's ability to no longer be considered a speedy lover
while copulating with his dead co-anchor's corpse, also discovering that
a dead person's muscles release after death, the bowels are no exception,
and last but not least rigor mortis affects the vagina too. Then again,
Dad's awkward situation allows for a great husband wife bonding situation
when mother prepares him a vinegar bath meant to help "soften him up", but
Mom's heroin ends up doing much better. The movie's capper comes in the
form of mother and father following these easy steps to a better
1. Kill your Son's bullies.
2. Chop up the body of the dead hooker currently lying in your
3. Have your Son lie in the mess of breast milk and vaginal fluids Mom has
created from her previous escapade with Visitor Q.
4. Place the body parts from steps 1 & 2 in the back of the
5. Mom and Dad: surround yourself in tarp and have Dad breast-feed from
6. When your daughter returns home, have her join in the breast-feeding
Think about it. That was a happy ending.
*YOU MAY CONTINUE READING FROM HERE* This movie raises many thought-provoking questions. Through out the film Dad is trying to create a reality-t.v. article about teens and even degrades himself so much as to film his own son getting beat up and forced to defecate (probably so that the boy can forcibly re-ingest it later) for his article. Is this really what we're coming to in a society where the only things that make news are the things that will disturb us most? Can we reform our ways with the introduction of a new third party? What was the motivation for the actors/actresses in scenes such as the one where the dead reporter is being raped? "Ok in this scene, you're not allowed to breath or move cuz well, you're dead. Oh, and also, you just released your bowels on this guy's hand. Did I mention he's going to be having sex with you?"
All in all, it's a good movie with good acting and terribly strange content along with an excellent plot/moral.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watch a lot of films and I do it seriously. I have very few Asian
filmmakers on my list to see after Kar-Wai and Kurosawa. That's because
most Chinese and Japanese filmmakers are captured by the enterprise of
style. Very little new can come from such explorations; no matter how
elaborately you decorate an industrial building, it is at root a
But I might be putting Takashi on the list. I previously saw "Audition" and was impressed. Now this.
The basic form is the screwed up family that is saved by the intervention of a visitor. In the normal form, the visitor isn't contriving to do good, but does so just as a result of his nature.
Takashi's version exaggerates the degree and manner in which this family is broken, but his stylistic exaggerations are uncomfortably acceptable. This family is less broken in deep ways than the typical stretch. Yes, there are unusual, even perverted things here, but they all seem like rather small enlargements of what we find in families. Anyway, whether it strikes you the same way, that's one component.
A second component is that all the theatrical exaggerations are imagined first in cinematic terms. So though this is a low budget fantasy, everything is communicated efficiently. We fall into the rhythm quickly and naturally because so much of our film memory is exploited.
The one oddball thing is that curious Japanese censorship of pubic hair. We get some very perverted scenes here: after a man has sex with his teenybopper daughter (explicitly shown), he rapes and kills a coworker. While dismembering her, he decides to have sex with the body and gets stuck as rigor mortis sets in. He is saved by a shot of heroin from his newly lactating wife, who incidentally is both a prostitute on the side and a target for beatings by her son. All this is shown to us and the censors decide to get picky about hair?
But it is the third element that captures me. These types of movies challenge us. We are supposed to be both watcher and participant, indeed the actors are surrogates for us as much as for anyone real. This folding of us into the story is accomplished by making the main character a filmmaker/reporter and the main driver of the story his making of a film.
Takashi's relationship to the character making the film within is the same (by definition) as our relationship to the visitor who both observes and participates. Folding: it is the new magic of film narrative and in the two Takashi projects I've seen, it is masterfully and originally shaped.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
This was the fourth Miike film I've seen (Audition, Ichi, Gozu...well
5th if you count his short from Three Extremes) and I think this was by
far the most bizarre and disturbing. I'm not squeamish or easily
affected by movies so it didn't really disturb me but I can see where
it would be disturbing to the average viewer. Miike did manage to hit
upon almost every taboo in the books. I'll admit that I did feel
somewhat dirty because I got turned on by the opening scene...but hey,
it's a just a movie.
Overall I think it was a unique take on the reality TV craze and voyeourism in general. While I didn't like it as much as his other movies that I've seen it's definitely worth checking out.
Michael Moore once complained that the Japanese are an insular, complicated
people. There is a measure of truth in that. But perhaps, as a North
American, he is accustomed to loudmouth extroverts who broadcast their every
half-cocked thought louder as their audience becomes smaller.
Not so with the Japanese. The social sphere is internalized to a greater extent, without compromising a culture of communication.
How? Bizita Q, for one. The arts have long been an arena of radical deviation from the institutionalized conformity in JPN culture, manga comics and film especially. If nothing else, the artistic license given to filmmakers in Japan makes for emotionally stimulating material that doesn't flinch where most national cinemas do.
As for the film itself, I found it eminently satisfying. I have a taste for the subversive and the fantastic. Which is essentially what this film is, a fantasy. Ever been bullied? What was the most horrible thing you wished would happen to that bully after the fact? Methinks it might resemble something in this film. Japanese schools are notorious for peer abuse, I wouldn't be surprised if the creative staff of this film were acting out imagined scenarios from the safe distance of make believe.
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