Funeral Parade of Roses
Director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara.
No less than Stanley Kubrick cited the film as a direct influence on his own dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange.
An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Pîtâ/Peter (Kurosawa’s Ran) gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet—where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda for the attentions of club owner Gonda.
One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time, freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image and sound.
“Few movies are as redolent of their times as Funeral Parade of Roses, a 1969 exemplar of Japanese countercultural ferment… its charms have scarcely wilted.” (J. Hoberman, NY Times)
“Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 film Funeral Parade of Roses is a heady affair, especially when seen in our aesthetically and politically conservative times. It imparts the thrill of witnessing the hedonism and lawlessness both sexual and artistic of a bygone culture. You also feel an almost tragic surge of melancholia watching it: where and when, you wonder, will cinema ever get quite this wild again?" (Film Comment)
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