Funky Forest: The First Contact: You Explain It to Us

Both lowbrow romp and art film, this Japanese compendium of 21 short vignettes plays like a three-way date movie for Björk, Matthew Barney, and Benny Hill. Some of it resists translation. Some of it is universal. Three guys represented as brothers—one is a preteen Caucasian, though he speaks Japanese—lament their inability to meet chicks. An adolescent girl badminton player practices against an older opponent who streams urine from his one extruded nipple, and milk through his other. (Later he pulls hungry winged leeches from his shorts.) Free-form modernist dance—Michael Jackson meets Twyla Tharp—erupts on a beach where car speakers are as big as billboards. Three wood-nymph DJs plug their audio jacks into moss and wood to mix the sonic texture of the forest. Three drunken salesgirls at a sylvan hot-spring resort conduct a pillow fight (yet with kimonos demurely in place). Spaceships, anime ghosts, and clown emcees in white tuxedos also appear, none to great effect. Most recognizable among the cast is handsome, longhaired Tadanobu Asano (Vital, Zatoichi), who registers as if in a series of random cameos. (He's "Guitar Brother" among the three lonely sibs.) Whimsical and steadfastly nonsensical, with three directors behind the camera, Funky Forest suggests a series of interrupted dreams (several characters slumber and wake). The grotesquerie is gentle, and the slapstick doesn't sting. But mainly, at two and one-half hours in length, the movie is a huge test of patience.

 
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