SIFF Double Feature – Tag and The Lure
Tag: Here is what I think happens in this movie directed Sion Sono; it’s kind of hard to tell because this is some crazy shit. Dreamy schoolgirl Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) and her friends are on bus when a mysterious gust of wind shears the bus in half, bisecting all of the girls except for Mitsuko with it. (There is a lot of blood and awesomely terrible CGI gore in this movie. NOT FOR THE TIMID.) Mitsuko makes a run for it, but everywhere she goes, teenage girls are being cut in two. She replaces her bloody school clothes with different ones she finds by the water, and continues to run until she finds a group of girls wearing the same uniform. They recognize her as their classmate Mitsuko, but she does not remember them or going to their school. A special friend Aki (Yuki Sakurai) looks out for her, but in the end, extreme violence is perpetrated against this new set of girls. Mitsuko then changes physical form to become bride-to-be Keiko (Mariko Shinoda), and again transforms into runner Izumi (Erina Mano). The only unifying theme between existences is death and Aki, who tries to help Mitsuko figure out for herself what is going on.
I kind of enjoyed this movie, although I wasn’t sure until after it ended and I could think about it awhile. In it’s favor, it’s got a lot of blood, and that is something I really enjoy. And it’s cheesy blood, which is even better. But if you don’t like watching teenage girls get sliced in half, this might not be the film for you. (I generally don’t mind it myself.) The endless female body count is problematic right until the end. To that point, the film contains all women except for the pig groom (don’t ask) and almost everyone suffers some pretty bad damage. BUT, there is a point to all of this, which you will discover for yourself during the denouement. HOWEVER, there are a lot of panties in this movie; those schoolgirl uniforms are very short. And while there is a reason for it, it doesn’t mitigate the fact that we are constantly shown panties panties panties. That, much more than the violence made me uncomfortable, and while I understand why the director did it, I also get that it is there for titillation purposes as well. Turns out, vaguely feminist messages can be sent without constant upskirt shots. But I get what Sono was going for here, and if you don’t mind your movies being problematic, there is a lot here to enjoy.
Final Grade: B
Tag plays May 27th and June 2nd at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian and June 7th at the SIFF Cinema Uptown.
The Lure: In this film by first-time Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska, mermaids Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are trying to lure two men down to the water – they’re hungry – when a woman sees them and interrupts their dinner plans with her screaming. It turns out the three humans are a musical group at a depressingly seedy nightclub, and they convince the owner to let the two mermaids join their act as backup singers and strippers. Silver and Golden can switch between human and fish form depending on how dry they are, and their transformation is a huge hit at the club. (Not being human, they don’t really care about nudity.) As Silver becomes more and more enamored of the band’s bass player (Jakub Gierszal) Golden becomes frustrated with the danger romance presents for them. If a mermaid falls in love with a human, and he marries another, she will turn into sea foam. Silver has no such fears, and goes so far as to trade her tail for legs, losing her voice in the process. Golden finds nonromantic solace in the presence of Tryton (Marcin Kowalczyk), currently headlining a local punk band. Did I mention this is a musical?
This is a case of a movie being good, but just not for me. I really didn’t care about any of the characters, so it was hard for me to enter and stay in the world. Golden is too feral, Silver too besotted for no good reason, and the humans are exploitative and unappealing. I wanted to see Golden eat everyone, and it bummed me out when she doesn’t. I also didn’t understand how any of the songs related to the action, but that could have been a translation issue. (There are songs sung on stage and songs sung as part of the plot.) The gore was pretty good though, and the fishtail special effects were very well done. The film makes it perfectly clear how one might have sex with a mermaid, and even though there are tons of boobs, it did not feel creepy. (Well, the humans are creepers, but I didn’t feel the viewers were being drawn into it by the camerawork being male gazey.) It’s a very bleak fairy tale, and if that is your bag, then this might really appeal to you. I appreciated it, even if I didn’t like it.
Final Grade: B-
The Lure is playing May 27th and 28th at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian and May 29th at the Shoreline Community College Theater.