a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Tsumetai nettaigyo / 冷たい熱帯魚 / Cold Fish

with one comment

Crypto-anarchist and provocateur, Sono Sion (Suicide Club, Love Exposure), reveals a disturbing trend in his new outrage, Cold Fish. Apart from two hours plus of audience abuse, this gore-fest’s underlying philosophy aligns Sion with a simplistic nihilistic fascism. In his vision of this dog-eat-dog world (or is it more cannibalistic?) powerful and successful capitalist uber-men are the heroes and weak-willed wimps are the true losers. And don’t forget that women are only in it for the sex with the current alpha dog. Cold Fish is a loose adaptation of a true ripped-from-the-headlines crime. In Sion’s adaption, the weak and unsuccessful Shamoto (Mitsuru Kukikochi) falls in with the unscrupulous Murata (Denden), a pathologically perverse fish store owner who kills and dismembers anyone who gets in his way. Even though Murata may be crazy and evil, Sion’s heart lies with him. Everyone else in the film is portrayed worse. Murata’s the only one who’s got some style, humor and manly drive. Sion’s never been an easy director to like, but with Cold Fish he’s become quite despicable.

Originally published in EL Magazine, February 2011


Written by Nicholas Vroman

January 13, 2011 at 1:58 am

One Response

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  1. I’ve finally seen this and my response to your review is … “Okay. Ouch”. As a card carrying Sono fanboy, I cannot tolerate you dissing on him this way (with that shot at the end), even though it took me four shifts to finish this film and it’s been at least a short while since I’ve hated a film so much. I’m okay with your description of the film except for the part about women. Most reviews I’ve seen echo your sentiments but for me Mrs. Murata was the only interesting character in the film. She has power and is unpredictable. She’s complex and interesting. She’s not there ‘only’ to sleep with the latest alpha male, although therein lies the rub.

    My take on this film is that Sono’s understanding and exploration of maleness is shallow and boring. Men are either meek and they will be trampled, or they YELL a lot and are controlling. No gray area, no complexity, no exploration from Sono. His two other male films “Into a Dream” and “Hazard” are the same. I dislike them tremendously. The handful of films he’s made that concern youth culture or female protagonists are complex and poetic. The outlier is the nearly sublime, and autobiographically inspired, “Be Sure to Share”. Sono is a poet, and that film, about a man who wants to say ‘I love you, man. Thanks’ to his dying father, reveals a lot about him as a film maker. He has daddy issues, and consequently doesn’t understand men in any meaningful way.

    And, btw, I think most people bought into some ad copy and want to think of this film as a grandiose “exploration of man’s capacity for evil … that isn’t afraid to gaze at the answer”. Poppycock. This is a straight up genre film, but I can’t name the genre without spoiling it.


    July 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm

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