Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Screen 11 articles

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

2013

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Poster
  • Even within the film’s gonzo universe, none of the characters has much in the way of inner life; Sono’s ardent movie-love does comes through loud and clear in the film’s litany of cinematic references – both Eastern and Western, high and low – but this is the kind of self-reflexive movie that congratulates itself just for being a movie at all.

  • Sion Sono’s “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” strives to be madcap with its collision-course pairing of characters: a run-and-gun guerrilla filmmaking squad; yakuza tough guys obsessed with moviemaking; and a ruthless former child actress run amok. But goofball antics and a terrific, raucous finale can’t make up for the essential slackness of its repetitive comedy and punk chest thumping.

  • The narrative is awkwardly stitched together and hugely telegraphed (we can guess fairly early on exactly how everything will come together) and the pace frequently drags, but in the interim there's plenty of fun to be had in seeing just how far Sono will push his barrage of farce, references (kung-fu movies most frequently), and ultra-violence in the name of cinema.

  • In those moments that Why Don’t You Play in Hell? lacks substance—which are numerous—Sono turns this into a virtue. He reminds us that cinema is at its most pleasurable when it touches something deep inside. It might mean literally showing intestines, but that works too.

  • Why Don't You Play in Hell ultimately lacks the careful complexity of the mammoth Love Exposure, which felt overstuffed at four hours, and which crafted another disreputable filmmaking metaphor that was just as campily tasteless, but more varied in its methods. Yet the full-tilt pursuit of chaos depicted here has its own singular momentum and an undeniable richness.

  • It's hard not to love the pitched combat between shrieking cinephilia and everyday yakuza mundanities. But Sono is not subtle, too often lacking the deft touch needed to make the satire fly; he encourages his actors to scream far too much, and only a few, including Shinishi Tsutsumi as the opposing ganglord in swoony love with the vampy lead actress, bring their own supplies of comic poise and timing. Even so, the film's blast of self-mocking overkill can be charming.

  • The gonzo reality of Sion Sono’s cinematic universe develops unabashed in his 2013 film Why Don’t You Play in Hell? With smatterings of romance, extreme violence and absurdist comedy, a dedicated group of aspiring cinephiles become entangled in the world of the yakuza and set out to make the greatest movie ever made. Partially a thesis on the nature of cinema, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? plays on insecure masculinity and its delirious impulse towards self-destruction.

  • A welcome return to the absolutely bonkers pacing and insanity of his four-hour opus Love Exposure, Sono's not-at-all-aptly-titled Why Don't You Play in Hell? is a film of rapturous mischief, but behind the fun dwell some sobering ideas about how we engage with movies and fetishize the medium.

  • More than anything, “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” is a demented ode to a time when movies were made for the love of the game, but Sono has a lucid enough vision of the future to understand that the spirit he’s ennobling can really only exist in retrospect, his latest film itself a testament to the fact that such joyful virtues will always be available to those who need them.

  • It’s a mournful, madcap, and cartoonishly violent ode to 35mm and the guerrilla filmmaking spirit, one that collapses the distance between filmmaking and film loving. It is as wild, joyful and unpredictable as his upskirt-photography epic Love Exposure (08)...

  • This masterfully done and highly amusing film has a meta function of commenting on the yakuza genre, its rules and history. Gallons of conspicuously red blood used in the film look as if they are proud to be fake and thus send out the message that fantasy is so much more fun than reality... Using the yakuza genre tools Sion Sono manages to pay sentimental and entertaining tribute to a bygone era when filmmaking was reserved for those privileged enough or those crazy enough.

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