Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|09.26.07||Alamo South Lamar||This Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2007|
Rounding out the Nikkatsu Action retrospective, Velvet Hustler is about Goro, a hitman hanging out in Kobe because he's wanted in Tokyo and disenfranchised with everything. As Lars said, this movie is pretty much a perfect synthesis of both shown previously, encapsulating the crime elements of A Colt is My Passport (there's even similar plot twists) with the New Wave influence of The Warped Ones. The result is a more experimental meandering film that drifts in and out of noir elements in a haze of long takes, anguished conversations, and lots and lots of cigarettes.
I've been thinking about what my favorite thing about Goro is - he's pretty much the coolest guy ever so there's a lot to choose from - and I think I've settled on how he dances. His white suit and the hole in his hat and the way he guzzles liquor while making out are good, but I think his dance skills beat them out. There's a scene where he starts dancing in the club he owns and lines of people form up behind him and follow along. I was instantly reminded of Band of Outsiders when the three main parts dance in that cafe (I think it might've been the Madison?) and also the beginning credits of Kung Fu Hustle where all the gangsters dance (my favorite part of that movie by the way), but Goro takes the stoneface air of apathy on display in both of those movies to an extreme, literally stumbling forward and back with his eyes closed, expending as little energy as possible. At first I just thought it was a weird little transcendent moment in the film like when a girl starts singing a pop song for no reason but there's a later scene where Goro dances with a girl and he does the same thing! It's so cool I can't even believe it.
If i ever get to make a movie, i MUST remember to have either my heavy or my hero smoke his cigarette with his teeth rather than his lips. I don't know if I've ever seen this before these films (and, not being a smoker, I'm not privy to the secret world of smoking technique) but damn if it isn't an awesome small touch.
So, due to my personal bias toward noir and differences in tone and pacing between the films, I think Colt eeks this out as being my favorite of the three but this is right up there. Jo Shishido's character in this one is really great (I love the scene where the girl catches him surveilling or camping or whatever he's doing and the scene where he's targetting them on a carnival ride) and all the performances are wonderful, but the New Wave touches slow the movie down a bit and the ending is tragic rather than triumphant so I think, as a viewing experience, Colt packs more of a punch for me. I'll tell you what though. I'd love to have all three on DVD to watch whenever I want because I suspect that Velvet Hustler will grow in my mind the more I think about it. One of the things I've learned from the gathering of really smart and experienced people in town for the fest is how much of a tyrant Criterion is with its unreleased titles. Apparently they own the rights to all these films but have no plans to release them and are unwilling to sell to anyone else who would put them out. I just hope an Explise box set makes it out sometime or something. It's a real shame to know that these films could be readily available in the states but aren't.
All in all, it was an amazing series of films and I'm super glad I saw all of them.