A feverish collision of avant-garde aesthetics and grindhouse shocks Funeral Parade of Roses takes us on an electrifying journey into the nether-regions of the late-'60s Tokyo underworld. In Matsumoto's controversial debut feature, seemingly nothing is taboo: neither the incorporation of visual flourishes straight from the worlds of contemporary graphic-design, painting, comic-books, and animation; nor the unflinching depiction of nudity, sex, drug-use, and public-toilets. But of all the "transgressions" here on display, perhaps one in particular stands out the most: the film's groundbreaking and unapologetic portrayal of Japanese gay subculture. Cross-dressing club-kid Eddie vies with a rival drag-queen for the favours of drug-dealing cabaret-manager Gonda Passions escalate and blood begins to flow - before all tensions are released in a jolting climax.
Unique Snapshot of 60's Japan
- Funeral Parade of Roses review by Jawbreaker
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Funeral Parade of Roses is a vibrant melting pot of ideas with mixed results. Based initially on the premise of Sophocles play ‘Oedipus the King’, Matsumoto-san captures the changing mood of Tokyo and Japan. Traditional values are slowly changing; liberal views on everything from sex, drugs and consumerism are merging with the West. And in downtown Tokyo a bohemian scene is flourishing with gay nightclubs and Western pop music, which forms the main backdrop for the film. The final experience is very much a child of the 60’s, with flashbacks and iconic images going in tandem with hip tunes. Yet unlike many of the LSD films from the States around this time, Matsumoto-san uses the Oedipus blueprint as we slowly come to understand the troubles of the main characters. Being gay and hip in Tokyo may seem like a joyous life, but these are troubled characters with tarnished histories. Shinnosuke Ikehata (Eddie) is a revelation here, plucked from obscurity to take the lead in Funeral Parade of Roses. His performance is based on his own experiences, as until filming he worked the clubs before using the film as a springboard for a new career. As an actual film, Roses has too many issues and is badly paced, being hampered with too many 60’s flashbacks and waffle. It succeeds on another level, as a fascinating record of a Japanese era that the majority of us would have never considered existed beforehand.