Funeral Parade of Roses


Long unavailable in the U.S., 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, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara.

“Extraordinary!  It imparts the thrill of witnessing the hedonism and lawlessness – both sexual and artistic- of a bygone culture. Where and when, you wonder, will cinema ever get quite this wild again?” – Jonathan Romney, Film Comment

An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter (from Kurosawa’s Ran) gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet — where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda for the attentions of club owner Gonda (played by Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya, from Seven Samurai). One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time, 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. Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography, Funeral Parade offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens.  A key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema, and cited by Stanley Kubrick as a direct influence on A Clockwork Orange, Funeral Parade has been beautifully restored in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements for re-release in 2017. (Dir. by Toshio Matsumoto, 1969, Japan, in Japanese with English subtitles, 109 mins., Not Rated)