Kicking off the New York Asian Film Festival 2011 is multimedia artist Yoshimasa Ishibashi‘s debut feature film Milocrorze: A Love Story, a psychedelic journey like no other, examining our most base and primal human emotional desires. It’s a combination of absurdity mixed with insanity, plunging the audience into three separate dreamlike fairy tales, each with a distinct story line that thematically link together in some kind of twisted grand plan. Unlike anything you’d expect from a traditional film, Milocrorze is a stylish example of over the top concepts pushed to the limit that are oddly able to resonate despite being so absurd.
The film opens as if a children’s book were being read, narrated by an omniscient female narrator who introduces the audience to neon redhead Ovreneli Vreneligare (try saying it three times fast) a little boy whose seemingly older than he looks. Every day he goes to the park to drink yogurt until one day he falls in love with the beautiful Milocrorze and takes her home to meet his shaggy cat Verandola Gorgonzola. But love can be a painful thing and Ishibashi definitely aims to show the horror that comes from a male’s unrelenting desire to be with someone as Vreneligare must cover a hole in his heart with a pot lid. Yet what makes this experience so special is the mood Milocrorze creates with its life like anime style. The names of the characters should be an indication as to the kind of candy coated dream-coat that this film is coated in, a romantic fantasy of Tim Burton proportions that unexpectedly morphs like a chameleon into completely different tales.
Speaking of morphing, principal actor Takayuki Yamada, who also stars in some of the other big titles at this year’s NYAFF including 13 Assassins and Gantz, pulls a Peter Sellers Dr. Strangelove-esque transformation as the three of the main characters in each vignette. Starting off as Besson Kumagai who is literally ripped from the pages of your typical manga as a world famous romance counselor who offers up ridiculous dating advice like tweaking women’s nipples. Flanked by a dancing duo of exploited females, he berates the lazy wimps he can barely stand. This character intersects with Tamon, a heartbroken samurai who must battle his way through a neo-futuristic geisha house to rescue his kidnapped princess. Finally, he plays the grown up version of Ovreneli who after several years struggling with the hole in his heart stumbles upon his love again.
Throughout the movie there is a constant feeling of desperately wanting someone and this obsession is part of what’s missing in the pit of Ovreneli Vreneligare’s stomach. The shifting styles make the film feel like a roller-coaster of parables that tie together in an surreal way. There is one shot in the third act of the film that is simply breathtaking, a combination of speed ramp camera choreography with Charlie Chaplin precision timing that alone is worth admission. If weird is your thing, then Milocrorze: A Love Story is like Amelie on acid, a Seijun Sezuki style samurai western dripping with oddities and styles.