Starting off the beginning of the New York Asian Film Festival, is Funke, a dramedy to make you cherish your loving family
The NYAFF committee has been gracious enough to share a sampling of the films that they are showcasing at their event. For those in the East coast area, I would highly recommend checking this festival out. From what they have sent us, it’s a very entertaining mix. They have films dealing with ninjas from the seventies to modern comedies featuring Korean superstars. Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!, premiered in 2007. For those in the US, this will most likely be the first you have heard of this movie. The title is not only awkward sounding but it’s also a good indicator of how unconventional, uncomfortable, weird, and fascinating this movie is.
From the first scene onward, Funuke was not at all predictable. The movie begins with a lone cat sitting in the middle of a country road doing the common nonchalant kitty bath. A screech of tires and an accident occurs. The cat walks way scratch-free. The humans not so much. Their are three surviving children left. Their youngest, Kyomi (played by Aimi Satsukawa), witnessed the whole accident. She is cared for by her older brother, Shinji, and his new wife, Machiko (played by Hiromi Nagasaku). In the middle of the funeral, strolls in Sumiko (played by Eriko Sato), the starting point for the drama that will soon play out in the movie. Sumiko is a determined actress who will do anything to become famous. As she mysteriously wiles away her time in the country, she torments Kyomi almost to the point of killing her. All of the bullying is due to a past incident where Kyomi used her skills to draw a manga depicting how neurotic Sumiko is, thereby ruining her reputation. Sumiko’s presence continues to unearth past troubles as it drives a wedge between Shinju and Machiko. The country is quiet and serene. The death of the parents in the accident forces these people to come together as a unit, no matter how much they want to kill each other.
The film lulls you into thinking this is a quiet, contemplative movie. It is nothing of the sort. It is full of dramatic secrets, violence, and sexual manipulation. The actions give the story an absurdly surreal note but the relationships are wrought with tension. The dynamic between the family forced to come together is pretty much a pressure cooker leading up to the end of the story arc. The end of the movie ends with a metaphorical bus ride out of town. Two people changing the paths of their lives, but forever entwined.
It’s neat to realize that another source of power for the movie comes from all three women. Their passions and the struggle they have with their constraints play out on screen. Some use violent force like the demented sister. Only when she is appeased does her energy ebb down. The brother’s wife is a determined virgin who wants to make her husband happy and seeks to shower him with affection no matter how much he spurns her and turns his back. The little sister absorbs all of that around her and channels it into the manga art.
The wild card of the movie is highlighted by a jarring inclusion of a manga panel segment. Personally, I thought it was pretty cool. It reminded me of Kill Bill by using cartoon/manga elements to downplay the horror of it all. Even then that still had a surprise twist to it all. It also created the shift in relating to the characters. It swept the archetype trap away and presented the characters as they were: humans who just did really f*&ked up things.
Funuke, Show Some Love, You Losers! was screened early on in the festival on June 29th. This film has already blown my mind. Imagine the rest of the them!