Massawyrm declares FISH STORY to be his favorite film of the year thus far!!!
Published at: Oct. 7, 2009, 11:47 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
It is incredibly rare that you see a film that quite literally gets better upon subsequent viewings. Most often good stories are structured like a great joke – certain information is kept from you, building suspense until it all becomes clear in a sudden revelation of facts that brings everything together in one, fantastic, emotional climax. And while it is very enjoyable to rewatch a film like that, you can never quite duplicate your initial viewing. But occasionally a film comes along that defies that, one peppered with so much information that at first seems irrelevant (but is not) that it actually pays off even stronger when seen a second and a third time. Such is the case with FISH STORY.
FISH STORY is a great joke. It has a few key elements that it holds back from you. But returning to the film (as I have now three more times - two in the theater and once more on DVD), I’ve found just how densely packed a film it is. Virtually every line of dialog carries weight and pays off in the ending. What at times may seem like casual conversation is actually philosophical ruminations on the ending, its importance and the overall theme of the film – when it’s not actually information you might otherwise dismiss that serves to support all of the surprises the film has to offer. Even the film’s bizarre opening shot – the final moments of a 1970’s Japanese television show – pay off in creating a vast, circular work of genius that may well become one of my favorite pieces of Science Fiction of all time.
I first wrote about the film in my Fantastic Fest pre-coverage here where I named it my pick for the fest. At the time, while I loved it, I had no idea how much my affection for it would grow, but each viewing only made me hunger to watch it again and again, each time dissecting it further to find more and more hidden meanings and layers.
Based upon a novel, this dense two hours tells the story surrounding a comet about to slam into the Earth in the year 2012. In what feels like something out of an Albee or Sartre play, three men find themselves in a record shop moments before the end of the world – one man shopping, one running the store and a third trying to figure out what the hell these guys are doing walking around like nothing is happening. When questioned, the clerk reveals that he believes the world will be saved…by a punk song. Thus begins the interweaving of stories from 5 different time periods: 1975, 1982, 1999, 2009 and 2012.
Each period of time is in fact its own story, each with its own weird, genre leanings and characters – but the film focuses mostly upon the effect this single punk song has on history – from the origins of the seemingly gibberish lyrics all the way up to the stunner of a climax. It is, for all intents and purposes, a delightful case study of the butterfly effect - the chaos theory principle that one very small event can cause catastrophic, world changing alterations. At the same time, we learn about the men in that record shop and what brought them there – because all of the characters in this movie are connected, whether they know it or not. It is a film entirely about the interconnectivity of us all; how each of us – even in the smallest ways sometimes – plays a part in history. This band, this long forgotten, 37-year gone failure, might have saved the world – or doomed it to extinction. And only one man knows it.
FISH STORY is a warm, elegant, brilliant feel-good comedy swimming in good nature and full of surprises that will even catch the most jaded and observant viewers off guard. When I first wrote about this I likened it to Richard Kelly’s interpretation of MAGNOLIA – but in truth, after multiple viewings, I’ve found it more to be like Kelly riffing on Vonnegut and ending up with a sci-fi PULP FICTION. Infinitely rewatchable, the overt charm and jokes give way to wonderful subtleties that provide the backbone of an already impressive film.
This is the very best film I’ve seen all year and is well on its way to becoming one of my all time favorites. It is highly intelligent comfort food, chicken soup for the nerdy soul, an absolute delight from beginning to end. While it never milked tears from my eyes, there are a few moments that get me a little choked up and force me to fight them back, even now after my 4th viewing. If you have any chance whatsoever to view this film, do so at your earliest convenience. While I doubt it will get any kind of theatrical distribution here in the states (mainly due to Japan’s self-sufficient nature and their hesitation to sell their films short to American distributors) it will no doubt be worth your while to go out of your way to find. I need to have this on Blu-ray ASAP and watch it about 50 gazillion more times.
Seriously, I’m crazy retarded in love with this thing and I wish nothing more than every single one of you to find it and share the love that I have for it.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.