INFLUENCE: Rubber’s Lover & Shinya Tsukamoto

This one may be a bit of a mess. Bear with me.

I recently went on a Japanese film kick for no real reason other than I hadn’t been on one in quite some time. It started with a 1993 cyberpunk movie called Rubber’s Lover. I had watched it online years before and basically forgot about it until I found a copy on DVD back in June. I freaked out, snatched it up, and months later finally got around to actually watching the damn thing. I took my time with it, pausing the movie frequently to sketch out certain shots that were composed in a really neat way. There was an emphasis on one-point perspective, somewhat like Stanley Kubrick, but only if he’d been hit in the head a few times and fed a fistful of mescaline or something. While watching, it dawned on me that the lab that the bulk of the movie takes place in is kind of similar to the lab in chapter 4, where Marie and Shinya keep all their test subjects in isolation tanks. When I was drawing those scenes, I was recalling a movie I thought I had completely forgotten about without realizing it…

You can tell by now that this happens a lot, and I really enjoy finding out that something I thought I had pulled out of thin air actually derived from some obscure thing I saw years ago.

Rubber’s Lover is a movie that really owes a lot of debt to Tetsuo the Iron Man, the debut film of Japanese writer/director/actor/madman Shinya Tsukamoto. That name is familiar, yes? Because it’s most certainly where I got Shinya’s name from! Tetsuo the Iron Man used to be one of my favorite films, a deranged piece of black and white body horror cinema that I would force upon any of my friends who I thought could deal with something so mental. Lately, with more recent viewings, it’s lost its edge to me, and now feels just kind of silly, but there’s no denying that barely six years ago, this movie was a big deal to me.

(oh hey, here’s the entire movie on Youtube! Go give it a shot!)

In fact, most of Tsukamoto’s movies were a big deal to me. I once considered him to be a favorite director of mine, even though his films are all really a bit too frantic and messy. Tetsuo II: Body Hammer was way too ridiculous, and I can’t recall much of anything about Hiruko the Goblin or Vital. A Snake of June is gorgeous and erotic, possibly his masterpiece, but it’s still not without a multitude of flaws. I want to say Nightmare Detective is really good, but I barely remember anything from that either, and have yet to see the sequel. Nevertheless, though my opinion of the man has changed (I tried watching Tetsuo the Bullet Man on Netflix and quit barely 10 minutes in), his work, and the work of other similarly deranged Japanese filmmakers, left more than a small impression on me, and I think it shows quite clearly in most everything I do.

I can’t really explain how it shows through, there are just certain…gritty aesthetics, hallucinatory pieces, things like that. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it, I dunno.

Also, despite my current opinions, it didn’t stop me from buying Bullet Ballet the other day, one of the few Tsukamoto films I haven’t seen. We’ll see what happens when I try to watch it later this week…


One thought on “INFLUENCE: Rubber’s Lover & Shinya Tsukamoto

  1. Bullet Ballet is pretty great. No Tetsuo though. Haven’t watched Snake of June, Gemini, or Nightmare Detective yet but they’re on the list. Tetsuo 3 sucked.

    I like Rubber’s Lover and 964 more than most but they’re pretty silly in retrospect for sure. Still, I love em.

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