Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Review: Imprint - 2006

Too disturbing for American TV

IMDB Takashi Miike's "Imprint" is an one-hour episode of the "Masters of Horror" series that was planned to be shown on American cable TV.  As Miike explained in an interview, he asked the producers before what he can show, to which they replied: "Anything but penetration". I suppose they regretted later that they hadn't made a longer list of no-goes, because it seems that Miike took the opportunity to press the buttons of American viewers in every other thinkable and unthinkable way. As a result, broadcaster officials decided that the movie was too disturbing to be shown on TV.

Billy Drago is Christopher, a Nineteenth Century American who has returned to Japan to find Komomo (Michie), a prostitute he fell in love with many years ago. After a long search, he ends up one night in a brothel where a woman with a disfigured face seems to know Komomo's whereabouts. He pays her for the night, and in return she tells him the story of her life and what happened to his love. As he keeps urging her to tell him the truth, her account gets more and more horrific and bizarre.

I've always been happy to see Billy Drago ever since I saw him in "The Untouchables". He has got what I'd like to call a great movie face; when he's on screen, you have to look at him. Here, he stars in what might be seen as Takashi Miike's crazy version of Rashomon. Just as in Akira Kurosawa's classic, truth turns out to be something that cannot be distilled from personal accounts. Here, we have only one woman's account, but it is so surreal that it's a hard to tell whether her story approximates the truth or whether it moves away from it.

Miike shows the woman's story with disturbing images, to which he added unreal elements like strange hair colors, fields growing little windmills instead of plants, and a man looking like a rainbow colored Willy Wonka. The stylization has two effects. First, it makes the woman's account more ambiguous. Second, it makes the images bearable. Like Miike is signaling: "Hey, don't take this too literally!".  Still, I can see how this was a tad too much for American TV.

Rating: 7 out of 10 reasons not to push for the truth.