Thursday, October 1, 2015

LA EigaFest 2015: Tag Review: Violence lacks substance

It starts so cool with blood, guts and schoolgirls. No CGI for a bus splitting in half, girls sliced asunder, the director was there in person to explain that at the premiere showing. After all that over the top violence, my thirst-sigh-it was not quenched at all. As is, Tag is not as fun as the game where you chase around people from your childhood.

Pumping up the start are schoolgirls and violence with Mitsuko played by Reina Triendl. She drops a pencil and doesn't have her life cut short or her body in half. A mysterious force is after her, invisible and killing everyone around her. It's comically morbid, the amount of nonsensical death that follows her, iy puts you in a state of awe. And then it all slows down. Slows down to a degree where you wonder when the film will end.

In the moments the story moves, it moves fast with violence so killer you'll want to own the Blu-ray just to pull scenes for a clip show showing how messed-up Japanese films are. American movies don't have scenes where classrooms are blown away. In Japan, classrooms filled with students being executed have been playing since at least 2000.

Mitsuko soon ends up back in school, but it's not the right one and everyone seems to no her. Making her freak out and making you wonder what the Hell is going on.

Mitsuko soon becomes Keiko played by Mariko Shinoda who then becomes Izumi played by Erina Mano. Don't get confused. Keiko does too as she becomes other women who can't escape having their friends murdered before them. Keiko's story is set on her wedding day. This might have been my favorite part as a wedding walk down the church turns into a bunch of women in lingerie yelling at her. That and the violence towards people who seemed innocent of any wrongdoing preparing Keiko for her wedding being flat-out murdered with wrestling moves and neck breaks.

Izumi's story delves into a running competition and is the shortest of the stories.

You may notice that all the people around Keiko are always girls, this does pop into your head when you get past being at two different all girls schools.

Any connection to video games had to be a discrepancy with fully understanding English. I asked the director, Sion Sono what games he liked and all he could answer was Grand Theft Auto. You would get that hint if you go so far in the film where it turns out the girls are trapped in a video game. You can switch between them via a vary reminiscent looking game mechanic hud from the last GTA game. The way it connects to it all being a game is never clearly made our understood. Leaving me questioning if Sion couldn't better visualize a connection to video games than a really old controller and CRT TV.

The ending made little to this was awful sense. Turns out the girls are clones, it's the future, and for some reason guys want to play a game killing them? I still question what was happening. The only way out for our Keiko is to keep killing herself. So yeah, that happens? All the girls in the game wanted her to die, so they wouldn't have to keep dying. She's told her life is a lie and the only way to combat it to her is suicide, so Japanese.

Sion Sono is way too prolific and it shows towards the end of the film that just drags on.This film could have been sliced up like the ladies it kills to be quicker and more exciting to watch.. It could be re-edited, I could see it easily find it's way on to Netflix. As is it should not come to American shores again.

 What almost had me crying tears was an audience member brought up the Bechdel test, the test that supposedly proves intelligent conversation is happening between women on TV. The film in no way is empowering to women. It's a lot of cheesecake shots and mixed messages. The main character literally has to die to escape from the nightmare of the man's world. How the Hell could anyone think it was an empowering female movie? Japan will not be the country to do that or will show real feminism. 

Sion Sono is still in this game of tag, he's alone now and everyone wants to leave him alone. Sono, try and make films edited with a faster pace as much as you churn them out.