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Visitor Q (2001)
Director: Takashi Miike

review by Mike Philbin

Reviewer's disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with any of the themes or imagery in VISITOR Q (Takashi Miike's latest absurdist masterpiece). If you think there is, you're a lame-brained idiot who probably 'listens' to Britney Spears, 'does' Burger King too much and 'needs' to be summarily kicked to death on the high street by a gang of unshaven gay bikers, on acid, in nun's outfits.

Made on a budget of $70,000, filmed in one week on digital tape, banned in Singapore, banned in New Zealand, Visitor Q (aka: Bizita Q) is not what it seems to be. Don't believe the hype. This is not some sick and twisted snuff playground for the one-handed viewer. There is nothing pornographic about Visitor Q, as there is nothing pornographic about a car crash or childhood leukaemia or dental floss or grave robbing or... no wait a minute, grave-robbing's kinda kinky, no?

Here's the pitch:
It's about the traditional Japanese family unit... or maybe not so traditional. Kiyoshi (Kenichi Endo) is the father of the Yamazaki family. A shamed TV journalist, he's sorta been sent to Coventry, well, on forced vacation, and he has this mission in life, which is to make the ultimate TV documentary about sex and violence among the youth of Japan. Being a father, he ends up in a whorehouse having sex with his daughter who is one of the 'good time girls'. Now his wife, Keiko (Shungiku Uchida) is a heroine addict and not averse to prostitution as a way to pay for her ecstatic injection. To add insult to injury, her bullied teenage son beats her night and day with anything that comes to hand. She is literally black and blue from the constant domestic abuse. Getting frustrated yet? Wanna wander off and read about a more conventional popcorn-chomper movie?

Glad you stayed, because it gets much better and is, in its own special way, very reminiscent of the 1980s' comedy classic Soap for its extreme representation of the dysfunctional family at its most grotesquely explicit and excruciatingly intimate. And funny. Enter the eponymous Visitor 'Q', in the form of some lout who accosts Mr Yamazaki at a train station with a house brick - real subtle these Japanese youths. Somehow, this thug is welcomed into the home of the Yamazakis and that's where the story really starts to kick off proper. 'Q' being the catalyst to the family's eventual cohesion. I know, it sounds like a totally ludicrous plot structure but it's the execution that matters.

And that's all I can remember about this film's jolly, family-based narrative - so there's no chance of me spoiling the ending, which I would dearly love to do; the sort of mischievous DVD reviewer that I am. Initially, I watched Visitor Q in jaw-dropped indignation like I was having a terrible trip on some real obscure mushroom while my buddies were taking the proper drugs. Then I started to get it... There are several startling flashbacks I suffer from, daily, thanks to this über-satyrical masterpiece and the best thing would be to list them down in the hopes of one day exorcising their glaring reality from my scorched cerebellum.

  • Daughter as porn doll
  • :
    I didn't even get this. I didn't see why it was in the film and I didn't care. I knew better, crazier things were on the way, so I went to make a cup of tea. Hope it wasn't too boring for those who stayed the course.

  • Corpse in the boot of my car:

  • The kettle boiled and I made the tea and I'm back in front of the TV and there on the screen is Mr Yamazaki raping some woman to death in a ditch by the side of the road. He then stuffs her in his car and takes her home where he shows her corpse the sexual delight of his greenhouse - I kid yee not, dear viewer.

  • Breast milk:

  • I've lost all track of time at this point and there, stood in the family kitchen, was this moaning woman. I don't mean this complaining housewife. I mean this family woman, this mother, this drug-addled foundation of the Japanese family unit, groaning like a cheap prostitute on Dallas, purging her breasts of milk so that she's ankle deep in this off-white slush. 'Q' is sat cross-legged in the corner, under an umbrella. Grinning like a fool.

    Who cares how prolific Takashi Miike is, how many films he has directed. It's not the number of films a director makes that allows him to be exalted to such a high position in this reviewer's opinion, it's his film-making ethos. You don't 'learn' to be this good by doing film after film after film. Who cares if Miike is compared to Cronenberg, Jodorowski or Lynch - there's an entire cultural gulf between these 'western' dream-directors and one such as Miike hailing from behind the Japanese kimono of chronic liver disease and Yakuza skin paintings of surrealist water torture. It's truly about the way Takashi Miike makes his films. That's his great, and unique, touch. It's not about shock for shock's sake like any idiot John Waters wannabe might try to make his name. It's about exploring all the nooks and crannies and crevices of pointless life on this god-forsaken planet. With the gloves off. With the balls swinging in the breeze. With the happiness and contentment of creativity in uncensored flow.

    Tartan's region 0 DVD special features: fully uncut UK version, six-page booklet with film notes by Chris Campion, original trailer, and Tartan Asia Extreme trailers reel.
    Visitor Q




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