DISCLAIMER: Filmmaker Sion Sono has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by several actresses in Japan’s film industry. To learn more about these allegations, please read this report by Variety and visit this Twitter thread by actor Yuki Matsuzaki.
Filmed in Ether does not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct and condemn those that abuse their positions of power. In light of these allegations, Filmed in Ether will no longer produce any coverage and publicity for any of Sion Sono’s films, new and old, moving forward.
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The Fuck Bombers are a tight knit film group of four and they want to make a film but just because they’ve been waiting for more than ten years for the chance to do so doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. After all this renegade film crew have prayed to the almighty movie god, the one who answers all prayers and greenlights dreams!
Meanwhile, two yakuza gangs do battle and aim to settle a score that’s been brewing like a nasty boil for at least all of those ten years too. The leader of one of the gangs also gets his daughter to star in a film before his wife gets out of prison (she’s been in for ten years and gets out in ten days).
That same daughter, who ten years prior was a little girl starring in a toothpaste ad, will have her comeback thanks to her father and will eventuate a fantasy by a young man who, as a child, admired her. She will act again and he will direct her feature debut and she somehow becomes his girlfriend. This, however, all comes at the cost of one severed hand and a samurai sword through the head so he exits looking like a unicorn but still very much a hero in her eyes.
Then there’s Sasaki, who will be Japan’s next Bruce Lee and if not, he may just bring the yellow jump suit and nunchucks back into fashion. Oh yeah, and he’s been waiting ten years for this to happen too!
Not since Donnie Darko have the discussions and arguments about a film been so intense. What happens and what does it all mean? So now that Sion Sono‘s madcap feature, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is available on DVD the ability to pore over every detail and every scene, frame by frame will get all the facts down, right?
I’m still really confused about some aspects of this film’s narrative but you know what? It doesn’t matter. This film is much bigger than just plot. Are they all alive? Are they all dead? Did the police cooperate in the filming of the film within the film like the two gangs or did they go on a psychotic killing spree like the two Fuck Bomber camera operators? Should a Yakuza gang really wear kimonos?
All this doesn’t matter cause the film is just too much of a gas: big action, over the top, lots of blood, lots of killing but so, so many laughs. Sono’s film is an ode to the yakuza genre and a salute to the samurai. It’s also about those with the passion to just want to make movies and the passion to just want to act in movies, all wrapped up in the nostalgia for 35mm film lost.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is an incredibly layered and complex film once you smear all the blood to one side. Don’t be foiled by the preposterous prepositions that predicate and permeate cause for anyone who is privy to Sion Sono’s vast body of work knows, he is more than just a cheap thrill. He’s a poet, an artist and then he is a prolific filmmaker with an average of more than one a year since 2000.
This film was originally written 15 years prior but it seems to be the perfect fit in his evolution as filmmaker. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is also a pretty good entry point film for those who have heard of his legend but have yet to experience it. While it’s not nearly as dark and brutal as most of his earlier work it still contains many of the elements that have made fans grow close to and love this auteur.
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a must have for fans of Sono, those who wish to be acclimated to his work and can possibly be even a good one for film schools to demonstrate the passion that is needed to convert your idea from moronic to the silver screen. Though I think that last one is probably exactly the point of this film: for some things in life you need more than just passion.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is now available to own on DVD thanks to Madman Entertainment.
To learn more about some of Sono’s other recent works, check out our evaluation of his ‘Hate’ Trilogy (which includes the films, Love Exposure, Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance) and our Japanese Film Festival 2014 review of his newest film, Tokyo Tribe.