Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blues Harp (Takashi Miike, 1998)

Seiichi Tanabe in Takashi Miike's Blues Harp (1998).

Maybe watching films while being completely worn out from work and falling asleep every five minutes isn't ideal. Especially when it comes to films where plot is second to characters and atmosphere and you can't just jump right into it.

Watching Takashi Miike's Blues Harp like this just made it feel like nothing really happened in it. Maybe it's just a bad film, even though it is one of his most praised "kind of rare but still not too hard to get a hold of" films. It seems like typical Miike. A few people getting involved by chance with eachother and trying to build lives together, but due to their involvment in crime, no matter if they are full blown yakuza or only living on the sidelines, everything always comes crashing down.

Chuji works in a bar and sells drugs for a yakuza group. He also becomes the member of a band which is being scouted by an agent at the bar, getting close to a record deal. Kenji is a gangster who wants to move up and is sleeping with his boss' wife. Together with a member of a rival gang they conspire to kill Kenji's boss and alter his testament to make Kenji the next boss. The only problem is that Kenji is gay. When Chuji saves Kenji's life when he's being chased by other yakuza, Kenji takes an interest in Chuji, which makes Kaneko, Kenji's right hand man, jealous. This, toghether with the boss' wife seeing Kenji frantically brush his teeth and vomiting in the shower after every time they have had sex, spells trouble for both Kenji's and Chuji's plans to move up in society.

If this had been one of the first films by Miike that I had watched instead of number 50 something (and if I hadn't been so tired) I probably would have gotten into it more. But as it was, it just was too predictable. This doesn't really lessen the actual film as much as it does my experience of it. The actors all do a fine job in making their characters seem real and while Miike focuses on them, the plot moves along at a slow pace towards the inevitable end that comes to all (most) of Miike's characters.

The predictability of a story doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing if the characters are interesting enough, but here I didn't really feel like I could connect despite the good performances. All I felt was "Please, get it over with, I know what's going to happen". I really should give Blues Harp another chance.