A SNAKE OF JUNE
of June (2002)
(U.S. and Canada)
Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen
Not for sale to persons under age 18.
Tla Entertainment Gr
DVD Release Date:
February 22, 2005
Behind the Scenes and Interviews;
Tartain Asia Extreme New Releases
of Asian cinema in the States must be smiling: DVD label ASIA EXTREME is
bringing out some rather interesting titles on this format, proving that
there is more to cinema from that part of the globe than merely anime (not
that there is anything wrong with anime of course). One of the latest
releases is A Snake of June, by the director of
Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
Now to be honest a film by the director of Tetsuo wasn't exactly
a marketing blurb that invoked enthusiasm is this viewer. Tetsuo
was an exercise in pointless surrealism. It was a tiresome and shrill
attempt to out-Lynch David Lynch's Eraserhead
with virtually no attempt at a narrative coherence whatsoever. Now, don't
get me wrong, but Surrealism is something that no-one over the age of
thirty can take too seriously without muttering the word ?pretentious?
under his or her breath
. . .
Director Shinya Tsukamoto must have grown up in the meantime because A
Snake in June actually has some narrative focus (i.e., it has a story
sort of). Sure, it can still be described as ?surreal and dark? and
towards the end of the movie things veer off into
?so is it a dream?? territory. But still: this time around it is as if
Tsukamoto is trying to out-Lynch David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (a
movie which I insist has some sort of narrative logic and isn't the
plotless mess audiences thought it were
sort of), which is a good thing.
A suicide hotline worker Rinko (Asuka Kurosawa) is married to older and
balding salary man, Shigehiko (Yuji Kohtari). They live in an anonymous
Japanese metropolis where it is raining constantly (apparently June is the
rainy season in Japan). In fact I haven't seen this much rain in a movie
since Blade Runner! Every shot in the film
(except for the interiors) are practically drenched in rain!
On the surface their married life seems fine, but underneath tensions and
repressed emotions simmer. Shigehiko prefers to spend time aimlessly
staring out the window of a nearby diner telling instead of spending time
with his wife telling her that he is busy working overtime. Shigehiko also
seems to have developed a nasty fetish for cleanliness, obsessively
cleaning up the house all the time (and before you say that this sounds
like the ideal spouse, just think about it for a
Rinko has even bigger problems. One day she receives an envelope
containing intimate photographs of her busy masturbating, taken without
her knowledge. Who could have taken the photographs? And why? (And how?)
Rinko has obviously attracted a nutcase voyeuristic caller from the
suicide hotline, but who is he and what does he want? All will become
clearer as the movie progresses
DISC: The image is presented full screen and before you start
complaining, it actually seems to be closer to what is director intended
if you watch one of the featurettes (actually he wanted the image to be a
perfect square but couldn't do it because of technical and budget
The DTS sound
mix is good (especially of all that falling rain!) and the film has two
rather interesting featurettes and some trailers for upcoming ASIA EXTREME
releases, one of which (Whispering Corridors, a horror movie
what did you expect with a title like that?) will soon be reviewed on
My Japanese is nonexistent, but the subtitles seemed fine too, never
lapsing into any of the Zen bon mots bad translations often throw up (see
my review of Robot Carnival). All in all, not
a bad disc at all.
WORTH IT? I was particularly surprised by this movie, expecting
senseless cruelty and voyeurism, but found it be rather engrossing and
beautiful to look at (the B&W photography tinged with blue is quite
evocative). Well-acted, it is technically good for such a low-budget
affair. Even when the movie started to lose focus towards the end, I was
willing to forgive it its transgressions.
RECOMMENDATION: A Snake in June isn't for all tastes and
isn't SF even though it serves up some dark disturbing imagery which would
be familiar to those who have seen any of Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre
Jeunet's darker efforts. Fans of European ?art cinema? (and I
mean the Cinema Paradiso variety here) and of David Lynch's more
surreal efforts should check it out. You know who you are.
On the other hand, if
you thought that Shark Tale and National Treasure were
really neat, then you're advised to stay away from this one
. . .