Toshio Matsumoto created an amazing slice of cultural production in his first full-length feature film "Funeral Parade of Roses" (aka "Funeral Procession of Roses" and "Bara no sōretsu"). Matsumoto blends so many story-telling and film-making techniques that the whole films is one massive, dreamy stream of avant garde stream of soliloquies, breaking of the third wall, interviews, quotes, music interludes, comics, costume exchanges, etc. The impossible is completed and this bouillabaisse of film is a beautiful, entertaining and irresistible fantasy.
This story follows the Oedipus Myth, yet it is set in 1960s Tokyo with gorgeous black and white cinematography which makes the dreamy setting look as dated as the 1930s or as recent as the 1980s. Club owner and playboy Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya) is involved in a love triangle between aging drag queen (Osamu Ogasawara) and the youthful go-go dancer and hostess Eddie (Peter, aka Pītā or Shinnosuke Ikehata). As the two feud, Eddie reminiscences of murdering his own tormenting mother(Emiko Azuma) and her lover. As events unfold, the partying, romances, infighting and surrounding clashes of student protesting in 1960s Tokyo reaches a gory climax with a shocking revelation.
Experimental film, documentary, myth, poetry, art and fiction are bent and blended as much as gender, sex, sexuality and sexual orientation. There are a lot of trippy scenes and gnarly images as well as humor, erotica and drama. Peter is excellent as the star-crossed free-spirit Eddie managing great talent in facial expression from mourning to annoyance at a hair salon as well as feminine mannerisms. The poetic interludes and introductions, not narrated but simply shown with place-cards, are beautifully apt, touching and philosophical. The little touches of experimentalism in scenes like the cat fight in the club where the characters wardrobes transform to fit a duel or how onlookers form to rubberneck the event. This is one of many samples of experimental filmmaking paired with traditional narrative and mythology working very well together in the film, but it is best to watch the movie yourself to see how Matsumoto does it through the whole movie. Many viewers can recognize the influences this film would have on film director Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange with the sped up action synchronized with European classical music. With frank depictions of sex and other sensitive subjects as well as gory violence, this film is not for everyone. But if you can handle such topics, this can be an entertaining masterpiece and gem of cinema for you. It is a shame this is not available on all DVD regions.