United Red Army (Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)
So, this is batsh*t crazy, brutal as all hell, long, talky, intense and claustrophobic. It also has this weird, offset poetry which mourns the crimes committed (and the people lost), but also inquires into, and weirdly euologises, the people involved.
Probably as good a description of this film as you could fit into two sentences.
The intensity of these scenes, through brutal repetition, and through an unwaveringly clear, unvarnished vision, is harrowing. All the more so through its sheer inexplicability. Explanation comes through Wakamatsu's deft handling and remarkably perceptive interpretation of events. The psychological pressure builds, and never dissipates. It seems just plain madness, but it never devolves into cheap exploitation or psychologisation. When one doomed member laments "Where is the revolution?" you can sense that it's a question as relevant to Wakamatsu as to her.
I think this is the purpose of the film, to tell the story, but more importantly to ask "where did we go wrong?"
Wondering what to do, they hold a meeting. Trapped, some of the dialogue devolves into surreal parodies of what has gone before. They state their case to the hostage, saying "Their real aim is to steal our social consciousness..." but she doesn't seem to care. The final, farcical throes of political consciousness and revolutionary zeal comes with "That very cookie you ate is an anti-revolutionary symbol" which is possibly the best line of the 00s.
Yeah, the dark as night humor in the end is truly great. The revolutionary cookie, the explanation to the hostage how she is not truly a hostage, the delusions of grandeur and belief that this standoff is some kind of revolutionary event. All of it is incredibly ironic and incredibly sad given what came before (is this crap why you killed your brother kid?)
It starts off messy and confusing, but really, really focuses as it goes on. It's also incredibly tender, appropriately horrified, and genuinely curious in trying to get across the whole mentality of this group. I love how we see nothing from the point-of-view of the outside world until the hostage is taken. It gives the whole narrative this wonderfully intimate, crazy, not-unsympathetic tone, and it makes the whole tragedy all that more painful. You just had to be there, man, you just had to be there. ('nother Top 50 film for me!)
I love the isolation, it is what helps create the delusions and makes them spiral out of control. The lack of outsiders is very effective, and when the hostage shows up it just helps expose the lunacy of it all. I loved the disembodied voice of the police announcer, and the voice of the mothers acting as the hostage takers gnawing consciousness. I also love how the movie portrays the heroes as human being without ever excusing what they did or turning them into some kind of martyrs.
Glad you loved it, great review flieger.