The Film (4.5/5)
Sion Sono is one of the most interesting directors working anywhere in the world today. It is not so much that he has one coherent vision that defines his work, so much that he is not afraid to explore and experiment not just with genres, but with the cinematic form as a whole, and like fellow Japanese countryman Takashi Miike he is not content sitting on his proverbial laurels. Sono makes film after film almost making it impossible to fully catch up on this modern cult legends total filmography.
In 2015 alone Sono directed 6 films. One of which was released to Blu-ray last month by U.K. distributor of interesting and eclectic Asian fare Third Window Films. This film Love and Peace apparently has been a personal pet project of Sono's for close to 20 years. Love & Peace like many of Sono's film defies genre classification, but in an attempt to try it is a rock and roll fantasy musical with a Kaiju backdrop.
The film stars Hasegawa Hiroki as Suzuki Ryochi a guy working as a low level business man, but aspires to be a Bowie-esque rockstar. He spends his day getting picked on my his workmates, and to help him get over his lonely existence he buys a tiny pet turtle from a vendor during his lunch break. One day his pet turtle named Pikadon is discovered by his co-workers and he is teased by them. In a terrible rash decision he flushes it down the toilet, but the turtle does not die. He ends up in the sewer with a group of misfit sentient toys and discarded pets under the leadership of an odd old man Pikadon begins to grow, just as Ryo begins to become a huge rock star named Wild Ryo.
While Love & Peace is a 2015 release in that it played some theaters and film festivals in that year. I do believe that Third Window's Blu-ray release will open up the film to viewers that were unable to get out to theaters to see the film, and thus I will say it's one of the best films I have seen this year. The film is wildly creative coherently combining multiple genres without losing any sort of sense of balance or pacing. Also, the film has a wildly optimistic quality to it that I found quite refreshing. The Kaiju design for Pikadon was simple, effective, and oddly cute.
Love and Peace is brought to Blu-ray by Third Window Films in a splendid widescreen 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The Blu-ray has gorgeous lush colors, deep blacks, and accurate flesh tones. The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in Japanese with English subtitles the track sounds quite good with dialogue, background FX, and score coming through nicely.
We get a piece on the making of the special FX, and the theatrical trailer.
I would go so far as to say that any Sion Sono film one is able to see is at least worth watching once for the experience. Love and Peace, however, is worth going out of your way to see being that it is one of the most wildly creative and fun films released to Blu-ray anywhere in the world this year. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and is only limited in the extras department. However, the film is so good I have to just HIGHLY RECOMMEND it on that alone.