Fantastic Fest 2014: The World of Kanako

Kids on the skids and one mad dad

Tetsuya Nakashima's 2010 film Confessions was a short, sharp shock of Japanese mayhem that rivaled Park Chan-wook’s most viscerally vengeful S. Korean death-epics. This time out, Nakashima plays it fast, loose, and superuncool in a father/daughter tale of Tokyo woe.

A seething Koji Yakusho plays Akikazu Fujishima, an alcoholic, pill-popping ex-cop, deadbeat dad, and all around human clusterfuck. Fujishima lumbers around the prefecture like a soggy suicide waiting to happen. Cruising the garish nighttime streets in the world’s most unimpressive car, he backhands nearly every woman he encounters — having recently discovered his wife in bed with a bald milquetoast, he’s got female trouble and then some — and generally scores high on the Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know scale of cinematic sociopaths. Too brutal and self-loathing to be nailed as a true antihero, Fujishima instead radiates brilliant filth like the sun gone rancid.

His grim outlook only intensifies when he receives a call from his ex saying that their teenage daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) has gone missing. Once a cop, always a cop, and so it goes with Fujishima, who rifles Kanako’s drawers — ahem — and finds a hidden cache of needles and blow. Suddenly concerned about someone other than himself, he mounts a one-man mission to find his daughter and send her corrupters to hell. Unsurprisingly, everything turns out to be far, far worse than anyone could have suspected.

Multiple subplots and a disorienting, non-linear through story mimic the raging red whirlwind that is Fujishima’s brain. Helpfully, director Nakashima tags every new scene with a location, date, and time, but what really dazzles the eye is the gutter-neon drenched cinematography from Shoichi Ato and Yoshiyuki Koike’s ADHD editing, both of which amplify the already adrenalized action onscreen. Fujishima even goes so far as to employ animation and schlocky-cool video effects whenever and wherever the film might otherwise bog down into your routine ex-cop-searching-for-his-missing-offspring twaddle. It’s a rush, albeit a dark and ever more disturbing one, kind of like taking some bad acid and mainlining Seijun Suzuki’s greatest hits while being battered about the face and neck by a gang of Yakuza thugs rolling hard on equally awful ecstasy. Yeah, come to think of it, that’s The World of Kanako in a hyperviolent, nihilistic nutshell.

The World of Kanako screens again Wednesday Sept. 24, 6pm.

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Fantastic Fest 2014, The World of Kanako, Tetsuya Nakashima, Koji Yakusho

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