I don't watch too much television outside of my BBC and PBS shows. So, if I do have the tube on, I often have on TCM as I love old movies. Being a night owl, especially on weekends, I have noticed that TCM plays many arthouse films, and some pretty graphic and racy movies to my surprise. This past weekend was a gem, I had seen once, and had almost forgotten about it. TCM was the only network I have ever seen air the film. The film- Funeral Parade of Roses. The film has always been a twisted favorite and I feel it was before it's time and could be an important film to see if your LGBTQ. It covers gay culture along with typical 60's hippie/drug era and shows you what Japanese culture was back then to young adults. It's a drama along with some psychological tendencies. It gained its popularity when it's said it was the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick to make A Clockwork Orange. Director Toshio Matsumoto's shattering film, a kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960's: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queens, trans-girls and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and lots of black mascara.
The movies follow Eddie, as she deals with her hateful mother, and another drag queen that despises her, all the while dealing with the booming hippie culture of the 1960's. Eddie is played by a transgender actor named Peter, who gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol-ish superstar like performance. Eddie ends up as hostess at Bar Genet- where she's ignited a violent love triangle with the reining drag queen Leda, gains the attentions of the club owner Gonda. Whether laughing with drunken businessmen, eating ice-cream with her girlfriends, or fighting in the streets with local girl gangs, Pete's ravishing Eddie is something to behold.
In amongst all that, Matsumoto bends and distorts time here, 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 images, and sound, and music. What surprised me the most all these years later was I had forgotten how gory it was. The very last five minutes are graphic and shocking and squeamish for some. The end scene reminded me a bit of the shocking end to Helter Skelter. There is also the scene where Eddie catches her abusive mother with a lover and stabs them repeatedly. Of course, I had also forgotten about the bombshell twist at the end too. Very twisted.
But kudo's to TCM for playing this arthouse film. This is a key work of the Japanese New Wave and queer cinema. After that movie ended, they aired Performance, which I had never seen. But it was worth staying up till 4:45am. I mean an arty, bohemian film. it had a young, hot and sexy James Fox and Mick Jagger in a bisexual threesome!!!! I recommend viewing both films and have a cock-a-tail to two to enhance the experience.