Tenshi tsukinuke rokuchome / 天使突抜六丁目
From deep in the heart of Kyoto comes Tenshi tsukinukeru rokuchome. It’s a mythical address near the central train station that gives the feel of timeless low-rent hipster state-of-being. Director Masafumi Yamada brings it to the screen very well. Yamada is part of an indie underground blossoming in Kyoto. Like the more famous fellow-Kyotoite Go Shibata, he makes films that channel the fantastical and symbolic. Think of 60s and 70s meanderings of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Walerian Borowczyk transplanted to the humid and architecturally wasted landscape of Japan. The story follows the travails of Noburu (Taku Manabe) on the lam and his relationship with the mysterious and nearly catatonic Miyuki (Natsumi Seto), herself involved in the murder of her husband. Chased by gangsters and cops alike, they follow their heroes’ journey into the fantastic. A Lynchian creepiness and surreal logic throughout the scenes in an abandoned building give the film a certain chilling gravity. But the drive toward the ending flounders as grotesquely symbolic and increasingly unnecessary events clutter the frame.
Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2011.