My filthy Northern hands could do no justice to the fascinating fixture that is Funeral Parade of Roses. Toshio Matsumoto marches through with no respite or care for a potential audience and their perception of his art-punk oddity. Remarkable camerawork and innovative charms are at the core of this late 60s feature, and rightly so. Paving the way for a narrative of clear and concise strangeness, the layered struggles of a few characters in Tokyo’s crime underworld are regaled to us with an expressive and thought-provoking spin. Such style and flourish are catered to well, with a backdrop of black and white filmmaking, an experience that is indeed suited to the narrative at play here.
Considering the sheer volume and consistency found here, it would be rather futile to unpack the various meanings and strong, artistic flourishes that are hidden away within Funeral Parade of Roses. Best case scenario, my brain, swarmed by alcohol and pâté, can give a sweeping statement regarding the sheer beauty, scope and interest of the film. It is a film to be distilled and consumed slowly, rather than downed and done with. Enveloping a culturally shifting notion, Matsumoto brings an array of charming and grating fixtures to the big screen. A mixed bag, absolutely, but the cream of the crop when it comes to more artistically-leaning features.
As much as it does have some narrative and perspective to give, Funeral Parade of Roses suffers from the poor experimentation and style that fluttered through arrogantly and without reason elsewhere in this era. With portions reminisce of Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets, the more ambiguous, artistically enduring moments create underwhelming, or even uninteresting effects. These moments are often sandwiched in-between works of real clarity or of bleak and ambiguous fascination. Every other clip and scene would feel like a strange jolt, and if it were the intended effect, it simply doesn’t settle in all that well.
Extending an embrace to the rise and rise of the underground-style communities in Japan, Funeral Parade of Roses is an explosive, intense and rewarding experience. It is not without its artistic faults, often falling into ineffective or odd moments that wish to present fumbled thematics. Disorienting, but engaging enough to offer much to talk about, that is, effectively, what Matsumoto wishes to create. He does so with general ease, a collection of interesting ideas and speculative scenes that can be deconstructed into an exceptional level of detail. But whether that detail will entice or interest audiences is a whole other challenge, a definite uphill struggle that will fail to persuade some, but will provide rabid brilliance for others.