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Milocrorze A Love Story is a head-spinning jumble of zany skits and quasi-philosophical musings, united by the theme of obsessive love.
Director Yoshimasa Ishimasa pours out a cocktail of genres that lead to violent mood swings and alternations in color schemes, temporal and spatial dimensions. The novelty value of his cinematic hyperboles wears off soon as one is whisked off the scene just when one is getting into the happenings. But the groovy vibe stays, even if the impact is like channel-surfing or watching a Japanese variety show.
Cinema-literate audiences attuned to Japanese films that straddle pop and art, as well as lovers of comics and online games will appreciate the film’s pastiche style and way-out humor. Mainstream commercial avenues overseas are scant, except for Japanophile DVD labels.
The film can be arbitrarily divided into four segments, but their connection is ambiguous. The first part is about an orange-haired boy with the unpronounceable name of Ovreneli Vreneligare, who meets the eponymous Milocrorze (Maiko) in the park and becomes bewitched with her. The ending pulls the audience’s leg but it’s a cheap trick that, thankfully, Ishibashi pulled only once.
Next is a lampoon of Japanese TV or radio talk shows. It catches their mock-ecstatic tone with uncanny accuracy. The star of the show is an obnoxious, toxic-tongued agony uncle Besson Kumagai. He walks in a libidinous swagger, insults anyone who phones in for love advice, and suggests insanely weird chat-up tricks. This skit’s mockery of a Japanese brand of wimpy “herbivore hommes” who nurse their crush coyly and painfully is spot on.
The third follows Tamon as he time-travels to rescue his beloved Yuri (Ann Ishibashi) who is repeatedly terrorized by ogre-like men. The heavily-stuffed plot competes with the stunningly creative art direction and becomes sensory overload. The epilogue picks up the abandoned thread of Vreneligare’s unrequited love and depicts the grown-up man’s re-encounter with Milocrorze.
Ishibashi borrows eclectically from styles and genres of trendy directors. Vreneligare’s candy-colored world accompanied by storybook narration recalls the whimsical fantasy of Tetsuya Nakashima’s Paco and the Magical Book. Tamon’s lurid love tragedy is part homage to the Red Peony Gambler yakuza series of the 70s, and part inspired by Mika Ninagawa’s Sakuran in its anachronistic, fetishistic kimono-designs. Whereas a sequence in which TT moves through the ages, his clothes and hairstyle changing according the period fashion is a live action reenactment of similar scenes in Kon Satoshi’s Millennium Actress.
Transition between stories does not segue softly, but is deliberately dramatic and abrupt, requiring conceptual leaps each time. What gives Milocrorze a unique voice among its din of meta-genres are the timeless sensation of infatuation it evokes, and Takayuki Yamada, the remarkably versatile actor who plays all the adult male protagonists.
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