Today I watched Seijun Suzuki’s Pistol Opera (2001)
This film is something of a sequel to Suzuki’s Branded to Kill, which we discussed earlier this week. The ranked killers return and this time there is a guild to justify this system and once again the protagonist is the No. 3 killer but this time it is a woman named Stray Cat. In fact all the killers get cool nicknames this time around but that is about as pulpy as this film gets as it delves far deeper into the surreal and dreamlike than the previous entry. This film is also thematically all over the place, while the ideas related to human ambition are touched on here and to some extent modernized, they hardly fill much screen time and what replaces them seems anything but cohesive.
Watching this film for the purposes of review is very difficult as it plays very loosely with theme and narrative. Not only is the plot virtually incomprehensible but the themes are inconsistent and come in tangents more so than as through lines. I think this is one of those films that is not supposed to be thought about too hard as it will hurt your brain. Now I do not mean that in the sense that one should shut off their brain, more-so that one should consume it subconsciously, letting the events and imagery sink to the bottom of the brain where they can be recounted to you much more sensibly in your dreams.
Pistol Opera throws an obscene amount of content at the viewer, I think this is an attempt to break through our conscious mind to imprint ideas into our subconscious. This is not as radical an idea as one might think, ideas like this have been discussed within the avant-garde since it’s inception and is the basis of minimalism, and though this film is more in the maximalist vein, the idea behind it is the same. So is it successful? I think so, it is in the very least an entertaining ride, even if you don’t get passed the more base entertainment value of exclaiming to the weirdness. I would also be remiss if I did not briefly mention leading lady Makiko Esumi, who is a total badass and her performance gives us a relatable, human core to grasp to in this sea of the strange. 5/5
No clip today, Apologies.