Saturday 8 December 2007

Gemini (1999) Shinya Tsukamoto

I saw Tetsuo and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer a long time ago, truly bizarre Japanese films that helped spark my interest in modern Asian cinema. Both were directed by Shinya Tsukamoto who has become one of the key names that keep cropping up in my reading up on the genres and browsing around IMDb. While I need to see the Tetsuo films again to refresh the memory of a decade and a half, I saw A Snake of June recently, another of his films as a director, and especially Marebito, in which he was the lead actor and proved that he was freaky an actor as he ever was as a director.

Gemini came out in 1999 and is set a century earlier. Masahiro Motoki is a highly regarded doctor called Daitokuji Yukio who has proven himself as a battlefield surgeon, who lives with his parents and his wife Rin. Rin, as played by an actress called Ryô, is a little strange. She apparently lost her own family in a devastating fire and is suffering from amnesia, though Yukio married her anyway. Now, bizarre things are happening in a gorgeous house that has got more than a little creepy. Yukio's parents die, and then Yukio himself is thrown down a well while what seems to be his twin brother takes over his life.

This film is magnetic and it's impossible not to watch. The sets and costumes are incredible, the soundtrack highly unusual but very cool and the choreography goes well beyond the movements of the main characters which are often boil down to ritual, but even to the way nature moves outside the house. Often people's movements are more like dance than just everyday motion, especially the two leads who are superb. Most striking, especially early on, is the use of colour and light, many rooms or scenes being very restricted in their colour palette but with different colours for different tones or feelings.

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