Another ridiculously weird comic/gross-out movie from the fevered mind of Japan's most prolific - and most notorious - filmmaker, Takashi Miike. One of his five(!) credited films from 2003, this is probably the only one which will see a release in the US. Whether this is because it's the strangest or the least strange, I don't know, and won't unless I somehow manage to see the others. (Miike makes films faster than anybody can watch them.) The plot here, if you can call it that, involves Minami (Hideki Sone), a virginal Yakuza goon ordered to "whack" his insane higher-up Ozaki (played by Sho Aikawa, a veteran actor who's gamely deadpanned his way through so many bizarre roles in Miike's movies that he's become Japan's answer to Leslie Nielsen). He does so, but when Ozaki's corpse mysteriously disappears from Minami's car during a restaurant stop, Minami embarks on a quest for his "Brother" that becomes an increasingly surreal psychosexual odyssey, involving a man with a half-white face, a crazy pair of siblings running an empty hotel, and some things I can't even mention on a family web site.
Though slower moving and far less "horrifying" than the ads for the movie would have you believe, Gozu still has a freak-out ending that is a definite crowd-pleaser. The audience I was with couldn't help but laugh at the insanity of it all. The film owes a little too much to the ideas (if not exactly the delivery) of David Lynch for me to fully laud its inventiveness, but as usual, once the easy shocks were over, I discovered some method to Miike's madness on the drive home. There's a lot of subtle sexual and maternal symbolism at play, but don't let that stop you from gasping at the scene that explains the movie's title Gozu, which means "cow head" in Japanese.