March 05, 2006

GEMINI (1999, Japan) R3 DVD

GEMINI (1999, Japan, titled "Soseiji")
DVD review (Region 3, Hong Kong, from Golden Scene)

Wonderfully surreal, period horror from the director of TETSUO: IRON MAN

After having my senses seriously mauled by TETSUO - IRON MAN, I'd sworn never to watch anything by this director again. Unwittingly, I'd got GEMINI not knowing anything more about it than it had interesting reviews. Little did I know it was also directed by Shinya Tsukamoto...

As a young doctor is just getting married, his mother then his father die in mysterious circumstances. Have their deaths anything to do with his new wife, after all, she has no memory of her past before she met the doctor...

As the film started I had an initial problem with the athletic use of the handheld camerawork, juxtaposed with the unusual and intrusive soundtrack. It was supposed to be a turn of the century rural setting!

Anyhow, I was soon rewarded by the impressive performances of Masahiro Motoki as the doctor and Ryu (ALIVE, AZUMI) as his wife - two unusual looking but elegant actors, asked to perform almost dance-like, very physical acting. Together with the slightly surreal make-up and hairstyles, the over-the-top drama almost toppled over into comedy. But I soon got into the stylised performances as I started to find my bearings. The expertness of the handheld camera was frenetic but carefully controlled - delivering some terrific shocks.

According to the Twitch Film website (there's a link in the sidebar at right), GEMINI is due for a Region 1 DVD release in May.

The Region 3 Hong Kong DVD that I watched (pictured above) had well-translated subtitles, but they were non-removable, and also had the chinese in vision as well, meaning that there were sometimes 3 rows of subtitles obscuring the picture!


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