Metal Maniac

Movie Suggestion VIII: Young Thugs – Nostalgia

Original title: Kishiwada shônen gurentai: Bôkyô

 

Japan – 1998

 

Directed by: Takashi Miike

 

Stars:   Takeshi Caesar, Naoto Takenaka, Setsuko Karasuma and Saki Takaoka.

 

Plot: “Nostalgia is Takashi Miike’s favorite film of his considerable body of work. Including biographical elements, Nostalgia centers around the home and school of a young boy, whose family mix the violent and dysfunctional with the comic and the loveable. Though containing elements of the sudden and shocking brutality that many associate with this director, Young Thugs – Nostalgia is more concerned with a child’s moment of leaving the internalized world of fantasy, and passing on eagerly to the next stage of life. A wonderful, touching, startling vision that is uniquely Miike’s.” (Taken from the DVD back cover).

 

It’s always controversial to talk abut Takashi Miike. Many love his works, others hate them. In my case, I believe that I mostly fit the first category, although there a few of his movies that I don’t quite enjoy. If I had to choose among his more than eighty works, “Audition”, “Dead or Alive”, “Visitor Q”, “Ichi the Killer”, “The Happiness of the Katakuris”, “Gozu”, “Graveyard of Honor” and “Izo” are among the ones I enjoy the most, but there’s one which I absolutely love, which is Young Thugs: Nostalgia.

 

Young Thugs: Nostalgia is different, it isn’t the “usual Miike flick”. What we have here is a weird coming-of-age movie that isn’t cute or warm. There’s violence (not like in most of his movies though), a few unpleasant scenes and images here and there, some gross-out humour, but it’s realistic, funny, moving. I feel like, even though they have so many problems, the children here are indeed happy, unlike the grown-ups. You can truly sense that Nostalgia is homage to childhood, growing up and friendship as well as Osaka (if you buy the DVD, you can watch a documentary on Osaka people as well as an interview with Takashi Miike).

 

One scene might be appalling, but as critic Calvin McMillin states: “…don’t let that strange interlude fool you; that’s the sole gross-out moment in Young Thugs: Nostalgia. While not homogenized in the least, the rest of the film is remarkably touching and funny. The film earns big laughs in its creative use of images and sound, in particular when Riichi finds himself hounded by a gang of prepubescent thugs. Each time they make an appearance, the theme from For a Few Dollars More plays, and Miike cuts the scenes in that grand Sergio Leone style. This scene should feel out of place, but somehow it works, really enhancing the gunslinger vibe that each of these fights give off.” (Taken from Love HK Film)

 

Funny how a movie can be so beautiful and ugly at the same time… Usually we can thank the Asians for releasing so many of these masterpieces. Watch it, your childhood could have been a lot different than Riichi’s, but, somehow, you will still be able to relate to him.

April 12, 2014

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