Monday, November 09, 2015

CAPONE CRIES A LOT (1985) - Seijun Suzuki

Capone cries a lot. I yawn a lot more. This oddball fish-out-of-water musical comedy made somewhere in the years between Suzuki's far superior Taisho Trilogy landed with a resounding thud for me, a series of loosely connected slapstick sketches about a 1930s naniwabushi singer from Japan seeking stardom in the U.S. He half-believes he's a samurai, fully believes Al Capone is President of the United States. While there are some lovely period sets and a mise en scene bursting with candy-coated colors, the literally all-over-the-map story is a chore to follow. With a longer than average run-time for a Suzuki movie (two hours plus), the playful surrealism that works in his leaner breakthrough yakuza films tends to stay overstay its welcome here.

So do the American actors sprinkled throughout, who are uniformly terrible as well as the stabs at "Americana" along the way (rhythm and blues music, the Chicago mob, the KKK). These scenes are particularly tone deaf and wince-inducing. You can tell they were directed by a man "not of this land." And, no, I don't mean Lars Von Trier. As with any Suzuki flick, however, there are bits of stylistic gold flecked throughout. You just have to dig a little deeper to find them in Capone. For instance, the still frame below...

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