Saturday, April 16, 2016

Surprise invasion of Japanese punk

A strange bit of synchronicity occurred in my life this week, courtesy of Netflix.  I have a two disk at a time plan with them.  (Yes, that's right, I still get actual disks mailed to me by Netflix.  I tried their streaming plan from the time it was introduced as a free add-on until sometime last year, when I decided that I had seen pretty much everything they had to offer that interested me, and that the new things they were adding nearly always failed to appeal to me.)

The first of the two disks that I received this week was Wild Zero (1999).  I have been adding things to my queue for years, at one point reaching about 400 titles.  As I have slowed down in adding—and recently, as Netflix has been deleting—my queue is down to fewer than 200 titles.  Sometimes I add something that I want to watch right away and move it to the top of the queue, but often I receive disks that I added to my queue years ago, which have finally percolated to the top.  Wild Zero was such a film.  I had no recollection of adding it (or, indeed, of ever having heard of it).  My purpose here is not to review the movie, so I will simply say: zombies, flying saucers, a gender confused love story, lots of rock music, Guitar Wolf.

Guitar Wolf is a band, the members of which—Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf—star in Wild Zero.  I do not recall that I had ever heard of Guitar Wolf before.  According to Wikipedia, they are "a Japanese garage rock power trio founded in Nagasaki in 1987. The band is known for songs with piercing vocals and an extremely loud style of noise-influenced punk which emphasizes heavy distortion and feedback."  I would say that is a reasonable description.  Not really the kind of music that I generally listen to, and I am not really feeling inclined to rush out and buy their albums (though for what they do, I would say that they do it well).

But the universe, it seems, wanted to make absolutely certain that I noticed them.  For you see, an entire movie starring them was not enough.  Just to make sure that I did not forget them, I was given a much more subtle reminder....

The second disk that I received from Netflix this week was another one that I don't remember adding, but I know that I did not add it at the same time as Wild Zero, because I moved it up in my queue from a much lower position while reviewing my queue a couple of weeks ago.  This was Times Have Been Better (2006, original title Le ciel sur la tête).  Unlike Wild Zero, this film does not noticeably feature music, save for Plastic Bertrand's wonderful "Ça plane pour moi" in an opening scene.  It is a film about a family's reaction to their adult son's coming out (despite the fact that he and his lover are in the forefront of the poster above, the gay son is hardly in the film at all—the film really is about the rest of the family, primarily).

However, there is one scene in which the son is at his childhood home, and he goes into his old bedroom to make a phone call.  He sits down on the bed, and the wall behind him is filled with posters and album covers from his teen idols: Wham!, The Cure, Culture Club, ... Guitar Wolf?  Can't be.  What would Guitar Wolf be doing in such company?  All I can see of the poster when I notice it is "ar Wolf", as the rest is behind the actor, but I have to know.  I rewind and watch the scene frame-by-frame, and sure enough, there are a couple of frames where the entire poster is visible.  It looks much like this:

I am mystified.  I truly do not see how Guitar Wolf fits in with the rest of the bands on the wall.  Therefore, I conclude that the universe is trying to send a message.  I am not getting the message, so I humbly share it with you, that it might hopefully reach the intended recipient.