Fantasia 2014 Review: Iguchi's LIVE, Silly, Sordid, Satisfying

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic
Out of his many obsessions, it's clear that Iguchi Noboru is an ass man.

It's pretty obvious from his camera's obsession with ample posteriors, but in conversation with him, he confirmed his appreciation for the curved tuchas. If that wasn't enough to convince, the Go-Pro mounted to a bicycle seat would have been provided another clue. The man likes his bums, and isn't afraid to let us know about it.

As one of the weirder auteurs from a country with cinema not afraid to be weird, his proclivities and fetishes are delightfully unabashed. Yet it's the sense of play that sets them apart - even when being downright rude or shocking, there's a charming spin on the behaviour. It's like those videos where you see an infant smoking packs of cigarettes and smoking - you don't want to condone such barbaric behaviour, but you still kind of marvel at the weird compelling image, the overt denigration of innocence, and the collision between what we're told is right versus what the world sometimes allows for.

Iguchi's Live can't really be thought of as a philosophical treatise on moral equivalence or the ontology of the social contract, but it's still a hell of a lot more clever than it might appear on first glance.

Making a twist on the likes of Hunger Games or Battle Royale or even Running Man or Rollerball, Live joins a long line of murderous competitions providing a spine for both drama and character exploration as the participants must jostle for their own gain.

Iguchi's film is set apart from the others by being simultaneously unabashed and charmingly chaste. The violence is gruesome but amusing, and the sexual tension about as hot as an after school special. Yet almost despite itself, it all works, the collision of almost infantalized romance and macabre mayhem culminating in an entertaining flick.

Iguchi also seems to have a proclivity for characters running about with weapons attached to their arms, and the glove-like chainsaws in this film are a welcome twist. Beyond the gore, there's a sweetness to the story, one that overtly is alluded to through the use of the meta-textual elements.

As a whole, the film doesn't exactly tread unique ground, but its stylish presentation, quirky attitude, and sophmoric antics never seemed to tire. It helps to see the the film with a boisterous and appreciative audience, of course, but the film still I think is more than just a slew of silliness sprayed on screen.

It's clear that the madness is methodological, yet the calculated nature never seems to interfere with the lunacy on display. Live is lively, ribald, and ridiculous, but above all it's both entertaining to watch and competently constructed. This is a film that's as sweet and bad for you as cotton candy, yet never seems to devolve into being saccharine or tedious.

Plus, it's got plenty of shots of butts.




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