Film: Cold Fish (Tsumeitai Nettaigyo / 冷たい熱帯魚) Year: 2011 Director: Sion Sono Venue: ICA, London Further Info: http://www.ica.org.uk/ Cast: Asuka Kurosawa Denden Makoto Ashikawa Hikari Kajiwara Megumi Kagurazaka Mitsuru Fukikoshi Tetsu Watanabe Jyonmyon Pe
15:30 on a baking hot Saturday, ICA – London. My second Japanese movie in 2011, I believe. The other? Confessions. So, if I ever purchase both that and Cold Fish on DVD I can file them in alphabetical order and they’ll still be remembered together! I deliberately didn’t read reviews, see trailers or even examine poster closely. I thought it was a comedy… I joke, of course. OK, it IS a comedy of the blackest sort. It’s a drama filled with horrific scenes which creep up on you. I would not say it’s a horror and indeed I haven’t really got into Japanese horrors – as yet – but essentially due to me not being a massive fan of the horror genre.
Not reading anything about this film proved – as always – a winner. That made my journey into the story and throughout it a more unexpected one. I can honestly say that I never thought it would go in the direction it did go in. Although, I must admit that even after the first 15 minutes I knew I would like this whatever type of story or genre it turned out to be – yes, even a horror should it so wish to become one. I also knew little of Sion Sono, the director. He is best known for his four-hour epic “Love Exposure” – although I’m unsure if he’s best known for that movie due to it’s quality or it’s length! [Mid-note: …But “BASED ON TRUE EVENTS” – wow, are you kidding me?!] It was being a little Pulp Fiction (character & setting-wise) in places but in a traditionally linear format …save for one or two dream/flashback sequences…and these are brief.
Once it had got going, and as much as itconfounded me still in these early stages, I then found hints of the movie Bound – it feels like it touches on almost mafia territory, in my eyes at least.
We are introduced to a little family unit (the male being Shamoto) and – without giving away the story – they’re a family just like many others but whom run a shop, with fish for sale inside. But it’s the way the scenes are shot, the music and the forthcoming tenseness & realism of the characters that grips you. It even, at first causes you to warm to them…all.An intentionally extremely jolly older chap, Murata is introduced to Shamoto & family. He’s so jolly that you have to suspect him of having an ulterior motive.
This man welcomes into his aquarium…well, ok its a shop which sells fish. A fish shop, you ask? Well, yes, ok. As he shows us and the family around his shop he comes across a little like Mr Willy Wonka – he’s proud of his outlet and everything looks so colourful and grand. Thankfully no songs though unlike Mr Wonka himself. Black comedy moments as well as dark or creepy character moments are served well by the music. Music is very minimal but put to great use when heard. Now, it wouldn’t be a Japanese film (or many Asian ones, in general) without it’s fair share of, and splashes of sex-tinged scenes. Kinkiness abounds on occasion and so does, I would say an almost David Lynch-esque ‘bed’ scene. The women are, needless to say entrancing or beautiful, or both. Even the daughter is as pretty and easy on the eyes as the others.
Also, a certain abusive scene or two are deliberately sensual or sexual. Sion Sono teasing with our conscience perhaps. Talking of abusive, I’ve purposely avoided mentioning the actions in this film, but for those who like gore there is plenty of blood abound. I want to elaborate but you should be astounded and surprised in the same way that I was. And… with blood comes death – but the way that someone may meet their death & their resting place is NOT what you’d be thinking, unless of course you’ve read elsewhere and in more detail about this movie. I can say though, that it includes the worst use of Bic-type pen I’ve seen ever before in movies, or real life for that matter! [*laughs* then *sighs* but I’m sure I’ve seen something similar in a movie before, but just not as drastic as this]. All in all, go see it. Be shocked, mesmerised and entranced. It’s a ‘gut-wrenching’ film…need I say more…