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Beneath all my suffocating inhibitions, my inability to share my true feelings, my fear of doing what it is that I really want to do - there is a character somewhat akin to 'Hirata', in Sion Sono's 'Why Don't You Play in Hell?'. Here is a ridiculous and frankly insane character - a wannabe film director (and leader of the 'F**k Bombers' cinema club) who'll go to literally any length to realize his dreams and is not remotely discouraged by his complete lack of accomplishments over the past ten years. He's nuts, and yet my soul is frankly screaming for me to live my life with the same liberated, unashamed, energetic, joie d'vivre, that Hirata maintains in the face of it all... The spirit of the F**k Bombers!
Before Sion Sono was a filmmaker, he was part of a poetry collective called 'Tokyo GAGAGA', that took their poetry screaming into the streets. 'GAGAGA', Sono's explained, is the 'sound of the soul'. By that same token, I've often felt that Sion Sono's characters are the soul, personified: their actions are crazy, over-the-top, and usually comically violent - they're not realistic, normal characters - and yet I see my own soul realistically reflected in his characters, more strongly than anyone else's.
Like Kurosawa's 'Dreams', 'Why Don't You Play in Hell?' is autobiographical in the most uniquely and completely outlandish way. Hirata is Sono, from his early amateur filmmaking days, when he really did go round with his gang, calling themselves the F**k Bombers, playing Bruce Lee in the park, and being called an idiot by young children. That just about everything else in this movie is heavily fictionalized is pretty obvious, but just as Sono's characters don't reflect normal people, but capture their spirits, his story, if you consider it autobiographical, captures the spirit of his experience becoming a professional filmmaker. It's a movie about the spirit of movies, the spirit of filmmaking, and as Sono says, the 'love of 35mm'.
It's also about a yakuza turf war. And there's some romance as well: a meek boy falls in love with a girl after seeing her shove a piece of broken glass through another guy's cheek with her tongue, and shortly gets over his own shyness. The movie is a crazily-ridiculous breathlessly-paced action-comedy, capturing the same punk rock energy as Sono's Love Exposure, and it's his most polished-looking film yet. It's a lighter affair than most of the movies he made before - the psycho-horrors and the Fukushima-dramas - but it's no less good; it's thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, and especially, everything after the F**k Bombers finally cross paths with the yakuza is pure genius.
It's a movie that had me laughing, had me tapping my feet to the music (all written and composed by Sono himself), and had me grinning cheek-to-cheek the whole way through. And, like Sono's very best movies (Hazard, Love Exposure), it might have even inspired me, to loosen my inhibitions a little bit.
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