• Funeral Parade Of Roses

    Released by: Cinelicious Pics
    Released on: November 14th, 2017.
    Director: Toshio Matsumoto
    Cast: Peter, Osamu Ogasawara, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Koichi Nakamura
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    Toshio Matsumoto's Funeral Parade Of Roses, one of the most impressive examples of the Japanese new wave, receives its North American home video debut in this special edition two-disc Blu-ray release from Cinelicious Pics.

    Set in the period in which it was made – the 1960’s – the picture, set in the Shinjuku District of Tokyo, stars ‘Peter’ as Eddie, a gay man who cross dresses and works as a hostess at a nightclub called Bar Genet. Eddieis clearly haunted by his family’s past and the issues that existed between his parents. In the bar, however, Eddie and everyone else who walks through the establishment’s doors drinks and parties without having to care about what’s happening in the outside world. Eddie’s life gets complicated when Leda (Osamu Ogasawara), a rival drag queen, becomes jealous of Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya), the bar owner. See, in Leda’s eyes, Gonda’s been paying too much attention to Eddie and not enough attention to her.

    As the love triangle aspect of the story plays out, we quickly get a feel for where it’s all heading but before Matsumoto takes the story to its inevitably violent conclusion, we’re treated to documentary style interviews with some of Tokyo’s real life ‘gay boys’ who speak to the camera quite candidly about their sexual orientation. He also incorporates a lot of fly on the wall style footage shot around Tokyo without permits, capturing a performance art/demonstration piece and some of the city’s general day to day activities.

    A fascinating look at Japan’s gay culture of the late 1960’s by way of channeling Oedipus Rex, Funeral Parade Of Roses is fairly confrontational stuff. It’s quite open in how its characters indulge not just in homosexual activity but also in drug use, drinking, and all manner of anti-social behavior. At the same time, the film can feel quite playful in certain scenes, making it part celebration and part tragedy. If nothing else, the film is remarkable in its visual style, with Matsumoto using some genuinely wild camerawork and plenty of interestingly composed shots to emphasis the drama inherent in all of this. Extreme closeups would seem to deliberately reveal stubble in on scene where Eddie’s transforming himself into the female persona he prefers to identify with. It doesn’t feel like a dig at Eddie or the life that Eddie has chosen to lead, but rather a way of pointing out the character’s duality. The film also works as a sort of mixed media piece, with Matsumoto using paintings, illustrations and manga style word balloons at different parts of the movie, even going so far as to include physical film itself in the proceedings.

    The performances are fascinating. Peter (or Pîtâ), who still acts to this day and who had a prominent role in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, has a genuinely engaging screen presence and the camerawork by cinematographer Tatsuo Suzuki ensures that the film takes full advantage of this. As Eddie, Peter takes full advantage of all that the part offers – vamping it up at times, but simultaneously earning our sympathy in certain scenes. She makes quite the impression in this picture! Osamu Ogasawara also shines as Eddie’s catty, fairly nasty rival.


    Funeral Parade Of Roses looks gorgeous on this release from Cinelicious Pics, presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.33.1 fullframe. Aside from one small instance of macroblocking noticed around the forty-minute mark, there are no compression artifacts to note, while detail is generally outstanding. The picture is film-like, with nice, natural grain structure, but clearly the 4k scan of the original negative has brought out a lot of the fine detail inherent in the original elements. There are some scenes where the film's grey scale looks a bit odd, and some noise is obvious in a few spots. There’s no obvious use of excessive DNR reduction filtering here, nor are there any issues with edge enhancement or other digital filtering. The end result is very impressive in terms of the detail that comes through, but again, the greys look a bit off a times.

    The only audio option for this release is a Japanese language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles provided in English. For an older film shot on a modest budget, the audio quality on this release is just fine. Dialogue is nice and crisp and the levels are properly balanced throughout. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion and when music is used in the picture it comes through clearly and with decent strength behind it.

    The main extra on the first disc in the set is an audio commentary by Chris D. When he’s engaged in the picture, his input is welcome and quite interesting but unfortunately there are frequent gaps in the talk that hurt the pacing of the track. Regardless, it’s still worth listening to as it covers a fair bit of ground. We learn about how Matsumoto was able to use both professional actors and non-actors alike to play the gay and trans characters in the movie, how Matsumoto shot certain scenes without permits, the influence this film had on the Japanese new wave and the influence that the French new wave had on it, how Matsumoto used clips from his own short film Ecstasis in this feature and quite a bit more. Chris D. also manages to offer some critical analysis here, offering up his thoughts on what some of the film’s more unusual elements might be there for and interpreting some of the picture’s stronger set pieces.

    Aside from that, the first disc also includes a new U.S. theatrical trailer, the film’s original 1969 Japanese theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    On disc two there Cinelicious has included eight newly remastered short films directed by Toshio Matsumoto:

    Nishijin – made in 1961, twenty-five minutes in length.
    The Song of Stone – made in 1963, twenty-four minutes in length.
    Ecstasis – made in 1969, eleven-minutes in length.
    Metastasis – made in 1971, eight-minutes in length.
    Expansion – made in 1972, fourteen-minutes in length.
    Mona Lisa – made in 1973, three-minutes in length.
    Siko Soku Ze Ku – made in 1975, eight-minutes in length.
    Atman – made in 1975, eleven-minutes in length.

    Most of these shorts are pretty experimental and fairly plotless, but it is interesting to see Ecstasis in its complete form here outside of the context in which it is used in the feature. It’s also interesting to see how in some of these Matsumoto is blending documentary footage with newly shot footage to create something altogether different. While these may, on the surface at least, seem plotless they’re not pointless. They sometimes push boundaries in a visual sense and while there’s very little context to give the sometimes striking imagery any sort of background information, they’re still very interesting to see and a great inclusion in this package as they showcase not only Matumoto’s directing style but also his attempts to try something different in terms of editing both the film images and the sounds accompanying them. They’re also all presented in 1080p high definition and in very nice shape.

    Included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase is an insert booklet that contains a new essay written by Hirofumi Sakamoto, the Director of the Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive, that presents some historical context for the picture. The booklet also details its influence and that also discusses not only the director’s work making documentaries, some more avant garde than others, but also the short films included with this release (as well as one that isn’t due to music licensing issues).

    The Final Word:

    Funeral Parade Of Roses still has the power to engage and compel viewers more than four decades since it debuted. It won’t be a film for all tastes, but those with a taste for experimental art films will find a lot to appreciate here. Cinelicious’ two disc Blu-ray set is an excellent package, presenting the film in excellent shape and with some nice extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Pita was also in Guinea Pig series as Devil Woman Doctor who explored unusual diseases and some of Death Note film series.
      Pretty good acting there, and Matsumoto's shorts are impressive.