Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: Big Bang Love, Juvenile A

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006)
Genre: Crime Drama
Format: DVD
Director: Takashi Miike

If you have watched the many movies from the enigmatic Takashi Miike, you know that his works can be clearly divided into two groups: those that are too reckless and overly-ambitious, normally ended up in a huge mess like Iichi the Killer or The Happiness of the Katakuris, and those that are more labored and restraint in their storytelling like Audition and Visitor Q - his best movies to date. No matter what style he uses, the results are always deliciously offbeat and, for those who can tolerate the subject matters, tastefully artistic. Big Bang definitely falls into the latter category and this is always good since Miike's real strength is when he really sits down and unveils his film in such a fashion.

There is a sense of a storyline in Big Bang - The setting seems like a metaphorical or maybe a futuristic juvenile male prison. The different locales inside the prison sometimes do not make much sense in their construction nor purpose. For example, the warden's office has irregular flooring that is meant to be intently stylish than anything else. The film centers around two men, each with their own unique violent past that leads them to where they now reside. The two strike a form of friendship that is never truly explained nor validated throughout the movie. There is a crime that occurred within the prison and the movie layers the analysis of that crime with the past crimes of the prison's inhabitants.

Clearly, the movie is very deceptive in its framework because from what I can gather from the viewing, this is more of a concept film than anything else. The film explores the effects of time on us humans and it just so happens that the prison setting is chosen as an example of such phenomenon. I am not sure how much of that came from the book the movie is based on, if this brilliant concept is Miike's original. The reason why I said that is because a lot of the meanings from the movie derive from the camera works and stylish edits. Many scenes are shown repeatedly, sometimes with a slight alteration to what you have seen before in terms of the time or the actual event. There is a clever scene involving a prisoner talking about a past event with the camera panning slowly to the left towards the prisoner and after each statement, the camera cuts back to its original position and starts to pan the scene in the exact same manner. There seems to be a message that time does not exist and that everything is just a resonance of our patterned behavior that is substitutable across our claimed "unique" identities. The movie points out that there is something more substantial in the way we exist in the now.

A character asks if one would rather be in heaven or in space. It is such a ponderous, heavy handed question that represents the film's philosophical depths. The movie does not point out its opinion of where you should go but I know where Miike is and that is where I want to be.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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