HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Bruce Lee & I
Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Invasion Planet Earth
Ferdinand
Buddhist Spell, The
Steel and Lace
Reivers, The
Angel Has Fallen
I Lost My Body
At First Light
Free Ride
Crawl
Transit
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Atlantique
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nostalghia
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Betrayed
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Moonlighting
Art of Self-Defense, The
Ironweed
Booksmart
Prisoners
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
   
 
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
   
 
  Wild Life Buy this film here.
Year: 1997
Director: Shinji Aoyama
Stars: Kosuke Toyohara, Yuna Natsuo, Mickey Curtis, Akiko Izumi, Jun Kunimura, Eiko Nagashima, Yoichiro Saito
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Romance, Weirdo
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wild Life is that rare form of comedy-thriller – one that actually gets funnier and lighter as it progresses. Usually a need to develop and resolve the storyline means that the drama overtakes the humour, but here director Shinji Aoyama throws a curveball by gradually turning a generic gangster movie into something far more inventive and entertaining.

Kosuke Toyohara plays Hiroki, an ex-boxer who now leads a solitary, regimented life. For five years he has observed the same rituals throughout the day – jogging each morning, two beers at 7pm sharp and so on – and works nights repairing pachinko gaming machines for games parlour owner Tsumura (Mickey Curtis). Tsumura is a father figure to Hiroki, and it is his involvement with gangsters that leads the younger man into a strange world of blackmail, mistaken identity, unrequited love and possible murder.

Like Twin Peaks or Repo Man filtered through the eyes of Takeshi Kitano, Wild Life takes ordinary subject matter and turns it into something far greater. For a start, Aoyama has no interest in telling his story in any sort of linear fashion. The first third is immensely confusing, as the director flashes forward and back, sometimes starting one scene, cutting to something else before returning to finish it ten minutes later. The film is divided into 13 seemingly randomly inserted chapters, and it takes some concentration to keep up with all the characters. Aside from Hiroki and Tsumura, there’s Mizoguchi, a former employee of Tsumura who has disappeared, Tsumura’s daughter Rei who has taken a liking to Hiroki, a Yakuza who is eager to retrieve a package he believes Mizoguchi has given to Hiroki, plus assorted cops, crooks and estranged spouses.

It almost seems as if Aoyama is mocking this too-familiar genre by making this initial half-hour overly confusing and playing it with a straight face. He slowly introduces subtle shifts in tone – during one conversation about the music of Gershwin, we notice the score has taken on a playful, jazzy feel that remains for the rest of the film. Hiroki has an encounter with a Yakuza thug that resolves in an unexpected way – the one-time boxer knocks out this towering thug with two shift blows. There’s a superb sequence as Kiroki, Rei, plus Tsumura’s wife and Mizoguchi’s ex-mistress speed through the city, the camera sliding towards and away from the characters as we hear their thoughts on a voiceover. And as the film progresses, Hiroki transforms from a quiet, shy loner to a proper movie hero – wooing the ladies and fearlessly facing up to the bad guys.

Like Howard Hawks’ similarly densely-plotted The Big Sleep, Wild Life is a film that ultimately puts style above story, creating any number of fascinating scenes and characters without ever making the film ‘gripping’ in the way thrillers are supposed to be. It’s full of technical trickery – in one scene, Hiroki walks into a sepia-tinged flashback and addresses the camera, and in another, the camera revolves dizzyingly around a police interrogation, the interviewee changing each time the camera passes by. There’s also a hilarious death-by-soda can, filmed in a way that would make Sam Raimi proud. Aoyama has gone on to make more accomplished, better regarded films, but few as purely entertaining as this irreverent, knockabout gem.

[Artsmagic DVD is available in Region 1 and Region 2, and includes an interview with Shinji Aoyama, audio commentary by Jasper Sharo and filmographies]
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 3387 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Shinji Aoyama  (1964 - )

Japanese director best known his acclaimed 2000 film Eureka, a hypnotic, sprawling drama that was a prize-winner at Cannes. Other offbeat work includes the thrillers Wild Life and Lakeside Murder Case, dark drama Desert Moon and the gruesome Embalming.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: