"Milocrorze: A Love Story" is the new film from writer/director Yoshimasa Ishibashi, who was there to introduce this wild ride. We have three basic parts to the film: first up, the story of Ovreneli Vreneligare, a goofy 7-year-old who lives in a brightly coloured, but strange, world. The young boy meets a woman, Milocrorze, at the park, and falls in love, and for a while they have the perfect relationship, until she leaves him for a man. He is sad after that, and affixes a saucepan lid to his chest to cover the hole left by his lost heart. Next we find a television talk show promoting Besson Kumagai, who gives telephone advice to lovelorn young men: only his advice is completely ridiculous ("go to her apartment and tweak her nipples," he tells one young man who feels his girlfriend doesn't really like him, "but you must do so with confidence because if you're hesitant, she'll slug you"). After each such conversation, Kumagai and his scantily clad female companions break into dance, not unlike John Travolta's turn in "Saturday Night Fever," and they partypartyparty until the next phone call comes in. While being chauffeured around in their rather ordinary car, they suddenly run over three people, two of whom are dressed in strange alien-like clothes that are part ant-like and part vigilante; the third is dressed as a medieval Samurai, complete with sword. Turns out the Samurai, Tamon, was chasing the vigilantes because they, four years earlier, had kidnapped his girlfriend Yuri and he has been searching for her ever since. Dying, one of the pair gives him what he wants by telling Tamon where Yuri is in a notoriously lawless building complex that houses bordellos and gambling houses....Tamon remembers meeting Yuri at her flower stand, where he is instantly smitten and buys up all of her lilies in order to give them to her. She likes him, but is secretive about her life, and he finally learns that she has a brute of a boyfriend. Tamon bests the boyfriend, and he and Yuri start an idyllic relationship, until the vigilantes kidnap Yuri, about three months later. As Tamon slides toward skid row, he somehow acquires Samurai-like powers of fighting (and he grows his hair long), and eventually he tracks down Yuri in the bordello but he can't afford her charms! So he goes into the gambling den, where the house cheats, and eventually he finds himself fighting about 100 hired hands (in slow motion, no less!) Of course he manages to kill most of them, but he is wounded himself still, he finally finds Yuri, only to have her not recognize him at all. And then the other hired hands show up....Finally, we end up back with Ovreneli Vreneligare, now 37 years old and an odd man who likes spending time at hot springs. When he ventures to a remote inn near a rather ordinary hot spring, who should he find running the place but his beloved, Milocrorze. Will they finally reconnect? Will true love prevail, after all? This is a very bizarre film, as the above synopsis suggests it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it is very very funny, especially when Kumagai starts dancing. That character, Tamon and the grown Ovreneli are all played by Takayuki Yamada, and he is just wonderful in each role. All of the sets are sort of hyper-unreal, with vivid colours and very groomed landscapes, and the sense that you're in an alternate reality is with you throughout the film. I felt the slow-motion fight scene in the gambling hall/bordello went on a bit too long the director cuts fast-moving action with lots of very slow-motion fighting, and after the fourth or fifth room that our hero has fought in, it get a little old. But aside from that, you couldn't ask for more from an absurdist, surreal Japanese movie a great start to our FantAsia 2011 experience!
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