Funeral Parade of Roses
Bara no sôretsu
A key work of the Japanese New Wave and queer cinema, director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s. A headlong dive into a dazzling Tokyo night world of drag-queen bars and fabulous divas — fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art, and black mascara — “Funeral Parade of Roses” was cited by Stanley Kubrick as a direct influence on “A Clockwork Orange.” An unknown club dancer at the time, lead actor Peter (Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran”), aka Pîtâ, made an audacious debut in “Funeral Parade,” giving an astonishing performance as hot young thing Eddie. A hostess at Bar Genet, Eddie ignites a violent love triangle, competing with reigning drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya of “Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo”). One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time in “Funeral Parade,” freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons into a dizzying whirl of image and sound.