Pistol Opera

Friday, June 24 - Saturday, June 25, 2011

“An inexplicable pageant of extraterrestrial coolness, Pistol Opera is pulp artiste Seijun Suzuki’s first film to see a U.S. release in more than 35 years, and fierce befuddlement will surely foam in its wake. Suzuki was 78 when the movie sprouted up at 2001 film festivals, and in virtually every way, it’s the work of a cantankerous, self-pleasing coot, dismissing narrative conveniences in favor of gumball-colored vogue-noir, goofy digressions, bulldozing sight gaggery, and an inexhaustible tank of style. That is, Suzuki has made the ultimate meta-movie, a self-parodying, surrealist gangster daydream as intoxicating and insubstantial as an absinthe swoon.

“Whatever plot there is is borrowed piecemeal from Suzuki’s own Branded to Kill (1967), in which obsessive hit men jockey for top rankings in some ill-defined guild by offing one another. Brandedis unchecked lunacy, and it squelched Suzuki’s exploding career as a New Wavey pulp stylist. Pistol Operacould be seen as the older film’s absurdist-futuristic sequel, as if Jo Shishido’s yesteryear antihero had dreamt it in one of his concussed stupors. Here, the assassins are almost all willowy women, Sapphically vamping around butoh sets that could’ve been decorated by Man Ray and chatting about the hierarchy’s quarterly results. After a hippie-dippie paint-box title sequence, it’s every long-barrel-brandishing, enrobed assassinatrix for herself, as Suzuki jump-cuts his film into laconic chaos, mixes mountainous landscapes with color-wheel theater sets, and shovels a ton of blood-red tulip petals with a payloader. Once you get to a shoot-out in an iodine-yellow-misted bamboo forest intersected with laser-sight beams, the equation could read as Godard + Fellini + Makavejev + Ken Russell + a duffel bag of hash.

“Suzuki’s dialogue is like Dada verse (“Your silver bullet’s crying,” one liquidator tells another), and his imagery is discomfitingly unique—you’re rarely sure at first what you’re looking at. The final duel is essentially indescribable, if only because it remakes itself visually and rhythmically in every shot. On the other hand, Pistol Operais utterly devoid of the berserkoid electricity his ’60s films are loved for; rather, it’s a free-associative sleepwalk, druggy, silly, and abstracted. Expect the unexpectable, and it may be your movie of the year.” – Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

  • Country Japan
  • Language In Japanese with English subtitles
  • Rating NR
  • Year 2001
  • Running Time 112 minutes
  • Director Seijun Suzuki