Anton Sirius calls TIFF film R100 “ batshit crazy” and “the single funniest thing I've seen in the last decade.”
R100 (2013, directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto)
When Matsumoto's Dainipponjin came out a while ago, I was one of the people who wasn't 100% sold on it. I loved the idea (a mockumentary about a guy who can grow to giant size to fight really bizarre kaiju, and the rough life he leads as a result) but thought it was draggy, and the effects weren't quite up to scratch. I loved the batshit crazy ending, but otherwise thought it was just OK. Matsumoto, a huge TV star in Japan, didn't seem to quite have a handle on this feature thing yet.
Well, that was then. In R100, Matsumoto has made a movie that's entirely batshit crazy, and it's the single funniest thing I've seen in the last decade.
R100 (the name is a riff on the Japanese rating system for films, where the number after the R is how old you have to be to see it) is a sex comedy in the same way that Caddyshack is a sports comedy, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a medieval epic. Katayama (Ichi the Killer's Nao Omori), looking for an escape from the pain of caring for his son as a single parent while his wife lies in a coma, joins an exclusive S&M club. As per the terms of his unbreakable contract, dominatrices with various specialties (some unusual, some so weird they make the unusual ones look positively Mormon) will randomly show up in his life and beat him up and humiliate him. For a while this brings him great pleasure, but as the club ramps up the level of shame and begins disrupting his work and home life he starts looking for a way to end the program. This proves to be a poor decision on his part, and mind-meltingly wacky hijinks ensue.
But wait! That wasn't weird enough for Matsumoto, so he also introduces a sub-plot involving a government agent trying to shut down the S&M club, as well as some meta-crazy which involves studio executives trying to make sense of the crazy film an aging director has brought to them (which, of course, is R100 itself). By the time the whole thing has turned into a '60s spy film, as Katayama is besieged at his father-in-law's house by the ninja legions of the club and their enraged CEO (played as though she just stepped out of a John Waters film by American wrestler Lindsay Hayward, all six-foot-nine of her), your brain has completely stopped trying to make sense of anything simply as a defense mechanism. That's just as well, because the film's ending cannot be described, only marvelled at as an act of pure dada.
This is comedy designed to provoke, not pacify, and even if you've never seen the kinds of movies Matsumoto is nominally spoofing there will be plenty here to offend and delight you, and any number of moments that will leave you gasping for air between guffaws. The running gag about people thinking they just felt an earthquake, the intrusions by the studio execs who pick apart the plot holes in the movie, the ridiculous number of Japanese women running around in leather and fishnets, the Queen of Saliva's disco routine... there are too many awesome bits to even attempt to list them all here, and one shot of such hysterical brilliance I wouldn't spoil it even if you poured hot wax on my chest. Given the subject matter and the level at which R100 begins, the fact that Matsumoto finds a way to keep upping the comedic ante is proof positive that he is a true master of his craft. My hat, and my inhibitions, are off to you, sir.
R100 won't be for anyone. People who still voluntarily pay money to see Adam Sandler films in theaters should stay far, far away. Hell, there are probably countries in which laughing openly at this thing is a jailable offence. But if watching a guy get kicked by a slinky dom in high heels until he beams with shame sounds like your idea of a good time, man have I got a movie for you.
Follow me, and give me audience friends. Cassius, go you onto Twitter. @AntonSirius
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