Just got back in from a late night screening of Masaaki Yuasa’s gleefully bizarre Mind Game at Metrograph, and for once, I’m at a complete loss for words. It isn’t quite avant-garde, but it’s so damn surreal—eschewing a conventional narrative in favor of a collage/stream-of-consciousness structure, mixing various media and styles of animation (traditional/hand-drawn, CGI, stop motion photography, expressionistic painting)—that the distinction hardly matters.
Even the tone fluctuates wildly, and to great effect. Our hapless hero’s wild journey—which takes him from the grimy streets of Tokyo to the afterlife to the belly of an enormous whale (yes, in that order), pitting him against bloodthirsty gangsters, soccer hooligans, the depths of his own despair, and a thoroughly incomprehensible and mean-spirited God—is played predominantly for laughs, but occasionally strays into surprisingly poignant moments of introspection and reflection (particularly when it examines the ways in which our lives can unexpectedly intersect, uniting all of humankind in a bond of common brotherhood).
My clumsy, rambling descriptions can’t possibly do the film justice; it needs to be experienced firsthand.
[Originally written March 6, 2018.]