A sullen, sloppy, chaos-drunk concatenation of the dour punk-rock glamour of Derek Jarman’s JUBILEE (1978) and the perpetual pandemonium of Carmelo Bene’s SALOME (1972), S?go Ishii’s BURST CITY distilled — and had the forethought to bottle for future generations (among them maybe you!) — a particularly explosive chapter in the rich history of adolescent angst and misery, one in which Mad Max enrolls at Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, prototype Robocops are on patrol, and perverts in bondage-gear are on the prowl for fresh slaves. It’s a rock musical, sure, but it also wants to kill you and your whole stupid world.
Although the film opens in its most subtle mode, it still involves being catapulted, or cannonballed, down Tokyo streets, with landmarks flying shakily by and tracer effects trailing across the sky. Meanwhile a burning brew of electronic gunk simmers and spits on the soundtrack — it’s like KOYAANISQATSI (1983) as experienced through a welter of very wrong drugs, or else like a city threatening to, oh, I don’t know, burst at the seams or something. Out of this tunnel of hurtling compression screams the roar of a motorcycle, and then a Camaro, and suddenly we’re on a vehicular scale, almost a human scale, one in which speed doesn’t just spiral into sick-making vertigo, but instead signifies some kind of raw power, the oxygen of instinctive rebellion. As tribal drums beat out a pulse-pounding battery, BURST CITY transmutes into the stuff of its legend: it was the defining film of Japanese punk, and an incitation to young filmmakers like Takashi Miike, for whom it served as a siren’s call to a variety of extremes.
Don’t pass up this all-too-rare opportunity to see an unhinged beaut of a master-catastrophe on the large screen. You won’t forget the taste of the syringe, see. It’s impossible.
Tonight’s screening is part of a monthly series curated by cinEncounters — an informal study group on Japanese films of the 1980s and 90s. Light dinner and beverages will be provided.
3/5 – 6pm // Free
CGIS South Building
1730 Cambridge St.
Room S250, 2nd Floor