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I hear the phrase "weirdest movie I've ever seen" quite allot, and most of the time I take it with a grain of salt. After all what is strange to one, may become dull as dishwater to another. Few times have I understood or cared to understand what I was watching less than during Funky Forest: The First Contact. I looked into this movie after having had my heart warmed by The Taste of Tea, and its blend of the quirky and surreal images with saccharine sentimentality.
Funky Forest has no sentiments, it is a series of free associative episodes, the flow like the sketches in Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different, and only where the Pythons were compiling a best of, FF is creating a TV show from another universe far beyond ours. Some of the episodes are deadpan and some just awkward, a few last only a matter of seconds while others seem like repeat characters you would find on SNL; there are the mole brothers a band of idiotic vaudeville style hosts who hurl insults at each other and are all but incomprehensible. Then there's the equally dull if less annoying "Unpopular With Women Brothers" also known as Guitar Brother, where a man with long hair sings to a fat little white boy of around 10 (referred to as his brother) and asks him what he thinks to which he's usually insulted.
The film does pick up at about the 35 minute mark when we are introduced all too briefly to The Babbling Health Spa Vixens, three women at a health spa discussing topics like UFO's and shy men, giggling, and enjoying a hot tub. The other highlights include two teenage platonic friends fantasizing of each other in elaborate dream sequences that combine some of the strangest electronic sound collage music to ever be emitted from a car covered in seaweed on a beach by alien children with some dance numbers that brought the theatricality of Tsai Ming Liang to mind. The film is divided into an A side and a B side, with a three minute intermission and later a ten second intermission dividing them like a mix tape you might play in your own sea weed car. Side B is much stronger than side A because it introduced "Homeroom"(perhaps my favorite segment), as well as several more involving alien creatures straight off the set from some David Cronenberg wet dream. Alien creatures used as musical props, used as training in some kind of lactating tennis game, or to generate miniature blood sucking men. I could tell you why but as we see in one scene when a young girl meets a man in a furry yellow suit with a long tail protruding from his crotch, it would take 3 hours and 10 minutes to fully explain what was going on, and even then we might still be lost.
Broken into pieces I could see this film scattered across some kind of "Adult Swim" like Japanese late night show, or making the viral rounds as artful YouTube clips. Altogether as one entity it's a chimera of sketches half-clever, half-hilarious, half-repulsive, half-dull, and half-refreshing. I know that's 5 half's but a film like Funky Forrest, can pull a five assed baboon out of a baby carriage and then go out for Ice Cream without a batting a lash, so it just feels right. Frustrating but ultimately worthwhile viewing, might have made it into my immediate favorites if not for the lackluster gags in "The Mole Brothers" and "Guitar Brother's" segments. Intergalactic Girl DJ Group of the Dream-world known as "The Volume" were almost enough to save the poorer parts, as they collectively hold the power over all sounds of living beings, sounds of nature, and sounds of human technology, and use them to lay down what else, but a funky beat in the forest.
Similar to films by Roy Anderson and Luis Bunuel, Funky Forest distinguishes itself from being neither lyrical and poetic as the former nor as absurdist and satirical as the latter, it's a guttural vomiting of images and thoughts surreal in the automatic writing sense of the word that Andre Breton championed to a fault. The fault still remains here, in the fragmented and emotionally vacant episodes (with the exception of the first dance number which is as close to sentiment and logic as the film is willing to flirt with). Directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, and Shinichiro Miki the film is obviously a labor of love (if not other more mind altering states) by a group whose been friends apparently since college, and they are clearly unconcerned with whether a wider audience will be interested in their in-jokes (as if Mole Brothers has been around for years), perhaps blissfully so.
If you like strange sci-fi body horror as humor, jokes about guys who can't get dates but who can dance like the wind, recurring nightmares about school, violins which sound like didgeridoo's, and all the non sequitters that can be squeezed into 2 and half hours this for you. Basically Funky Forrest is like watching a late night surrealist (completely illogical) Japanese variety made in a future when aliens (Piko-Riko?) live among us as objects and mutations and dream spirits, and I could go on, but it would take me 3 hours
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