Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005) Poster

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Maybe the strangest film I've seen
simon_booth9 February 2006
NAISU NO MORI - FIRST CONTACT may well be the strangest film I've ever seen... a 2.5 hour head-scratcher combining the efforts of three director/writers into a whole with no discernible plot! the film is essentially a number of short stories or vignettes, mixed together and occasionally crossing over (Tadanobu Asano and Susumu Terajima appear in a large number of the scenes). The content of these pieces is extremely varied, and beyond unpredictable. There's bits of stand-up comedy, animation, music, dance and other moments that are entirely inexplicable. We spend quite a bit of time inside character's daydreams, and we make first contact with some very odd little aliens. The film even has its own commercials and (thankfully) a 3 minute intermission.

This is undoubtedly an avante-garde film, I don't know if calling it "arthouse' is appropriate because it's so silly and funny (not like the kind of austere beard-strokers that one usually calls "arthouse"). There is some truly mad stuff going on, but there doesn't appear to be any deeper meaning or message to any of it... in fact I'm not sure what the "purpose" of the film is at all, except for the film-makers to go nuts.

At 150 minutes it must be admitted that the film outstays its welcome a little... sitting in a theatre for that long it's nice to have *some* sort of narrative to get carried away on (it's enough time to spin quite an epic). NAISU NO MORI feels almost like it should be an ambient film - on at a club or something. I can't think of any more eclectic film in cinematic history. Think SURVIVE STYLE 5+ meets Kitano's GETTING ANY meets NAKED LUNCH meets Alejandro Jodorowsky meets Aphex Twin, and you're getting somewhere near where the film is at!
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It's true - this movie is insane
tpolyaska18 February 2007
Funky Forest: The First Contact is a movie that defies description. It is so uncategorizable, so jaw-droppingly strange, so unlike anything you've ever seen before that you can't help but either laugh and/or shake your head in disbelief for most of its 2 and a half hour running time. The movie has no plot. Instead there are a series of loosely interconnected scenes involving various characters who say and do the strangest things. I was particularly fond of the three female co-workers who visit a spa and take turns telling each other hilariously inane stories. On top of that there is uber-hottie Tadanobu Asano, bursts of animation, unexpected song and dance numbers and some truly disturbing sci-fi elements. For the sheer weirdness factor alone, this is essential viewing.
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As strange as it gets
pb104-118 January 2006
How to describe this film? It's a group of related inter-cut stories by three talented Japanese directors, but that's not really it...It's a surrealist fantasy of a bizarre reality with grotesque body parts, freaky sex, wait, it's a David Cronenberg comedy where a fellow with enormous nipples pulls bloodsucking creatures out of his pants at a high school after school club. One of the most peculiar films I've ever seen, it defies categories. There are two parts, Side A and Side B, with a three minute on-screen intermission. There are wisecracking TV hosts babbling in fractured languages. And there are icky creatures that alternately make you laugh and make you sick. It's definitely not for everyone, but fans of extreme comedy and very alternative cinema will be thrilled and delighted. I thought it was awesome. 8.5/10
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3/10 might like it?
Flololo12 January 2012
So you're reading the comments section to see what other people thought about this movie, and you're wondering if you should watch it (that's why I came here).

Simplest way to answer this: do you relish all super surrealist films and have a burning passion for all that is extremely weird cinema? Then you will very likely love it.

I enjoy bizarre cinema to a certain extent but this was way past the line for me. Why? For starters, it's too long for the type of film that it is, which is slew of skits and characters that from time to time overlap. It felt like I was watching footage from several films and was hastily stitched together to try and make....something. I can't compare it to other films because I think you really can't compare it to anything (this is also likely why its loved by other IMDb reviewers). For some reason people have brought up the Taste of Tea, Survive Style 5+, Kamikaze Girls and a slew of other films, but to me these films are all a world apart from each other. If you enjoy weird films but want more developed characters with a more stable plot then watch those other films mentioned.

I already know this comment will get the thumbs down and will be written off as being "above my head" or that there are specific Japanese cultural references that I couldn't possibly understand, but considering that even Japanese viewers gave it 1 and 2 stars on, I don't think it's necessarily a culturally specific film, just a film that certain people will enjoy.
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Great film! Funny and arty at the same time!
cj_haxholm18 June 2007
i went to see this film without having the slightest clue about it....

and at first i was quite disappointed; some not very inspiring animations...but then,slowly it all grew, to be more and more crazy and unbelievable, and things accelerated a whole lot...

then it appears to be commercials within each other, gags, comedy shows, circus, small short stories and in a way they have nothing to do with each other and yet they make this incredible organic of well-composed-complex movie!

so a mix with low graphics (and high), fake commercials, beautiful scenes of landscapes and things like! so all in all the the best parts of Japanese experimental films + all the best from the(Japanese) pop culture...blend it, shake it...and voilà!

I was very glad i saw this movie! really!
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We Want The Funk
loganx-29 May 2010
I hear the phrase "weirdest movie I've ever seen" quite allot, and most of the time I take it with a grain of salt. After all what is strange to one, may become dull as dishwater to another. Few times have I understood or cared to understand what I was watching less than during Funky Forest: The First Contact. I looked into this movie after having had my heart warmed by The Taste of Tea, and its blend of the quirky and surreal images with saccharine sentimentality.

Funky Forest has no sentiments, it is a series of free associative episodes, the flow like the sketches in Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different, and only where the Pythons were compiling a best of, FF is creating a TV show from another universe far beyond ours. Some of the episodes are deadpan and some just awkward, a few last only a matter of seconds while others seem like repeat characters you would find on SNL; there are the mole brothers a band of idiotic vaudeville style hosts who hurl insults at each other and are all but incomprehensible. Then there's the equally dull if less annoying "Unpopular With Women Brothers" also known as Guitar Brother, where a man with long hair sings to a fat little white boy of around 10 (referred to as his brother) and asks him what he thinks to which he's usually insulted.

The film does pick up at about the 35 minute mark when we are introduced all too briefly to The Babbling Health Spa Vixens, three women at a health spa discussing topics like UFO's and shy men, giggling, and enjoying a hot tub. The other highlights include two teenage platonic friends fantasizing of each other in elaborate dream sequences that combine some of the strangest electronic sound collage music to ever be emitted from a car covered in seaweed on a beach by alien children with some dance numbers that brought the theatricality of Tsai Ming Liang to mind. The film is divided into an A side and a B side, with a three minute intermission and later a ten second intermission dividing them like a mix tape you might play in your own sea weed car. Side B is much stronger than side A because it introduced "Homeroom"(perhaps my favorite segment), as well as several more involving alien creatures straight off the set from some David Cronenberg wet dream. Alien creatures used as musical props, used as training in some kind of lactating tennis game, or to generate miniature blood sucking men. I could tell you why but as we see in one scene when a young girl meets a man in a furry yellow suit with a long tail protruding from his crotch, it would take 3 hours and 10 minutes to fully explain what was going on, and even then we might still be lost.

Broken into pieces I could see this film scattered across some kind of "Adult Swim" like Japanese late night show, or making the viral rounds as artful YouTube clips. Altogether as one entity it's a chimera of sketches half-clever, half-hilarious, half-repulsive, half-dull, and half-refreshing. I know that's 5 half's but a film like Funky Forrest, can pull a five assed baboon out of a baby carriage and then go out for Ice Cream without a batting a lash, so it just feels right. Frustrating but ultimately worthwhile viewing, might have made it into my immediate favorites if not for the lackluster gags in "The Mole Brothers" and "Guitar Brother's" segments. Intergalactic Girl DJ Group of the Dream-world known as "The Volume" were almost enough to save the poorer parts, as they collectively hold the power over all sounds of living beings, sounds of nature, and sounds of human technology, and use them to lay down what else, but a funky beat in the forest.

Similar to films by Roy Anderson and Luis Bunuel, Funky Forest distinguishes itself from being neither lyrical and poetic as the former nor as absurdist and satirical as the latter, it's a guttural vomiting of images and thoughts surreal in the automatic writing sense of the word that Andre Breton championed to a fault. The fault still remains here, in the fragmented and emotionally vacant episodes (with the exception of the first dance number which is as close to sentiment and logic as the film is willing to flirt with). Directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, and Shinichiro Miki the film is obviously a labor of love (if not other more mind altering states) by a group whose been friends apparently since college, and they are clearly unconcerned with whether a wider audience will be interested in their in-jokes (as if Mole Brothers has been around for years), perhaps blissfully so.

If you like strange sci-fi body horror as humor, jokes about guys who can't get dates but who can dance like the wind, recurring nightmares about school, violins which sound like didgeridoo's, and all the non sequitters that can be squeezed into 2 and half hours this for you. Basically Funky Forrest is like watching a late night surrealist (completely illogical) Japanese variety made in a future when aliens (Piko-Riko?) live among us as objects and mutations and dream spirits, and I could go on, but it would take me 3 hours…
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stop making sense
ronanbrother32 August 2006
This film kicks against the mind numbing normality of everyday existence by utilising an inspired surreal and open ended narrative. It is broken up into a series of 'skits', which it jumps in an out of, and plays like a frenetic daydream. As it alternates between humour, horror, romance, pathos, existentialism and stand up routine it brings to mind the work of auteurs David Cronenberg and Matthew Barney and the British comic greats the goodies, the mighty boosh and perhaps even little Britain all melded in a postmodern pastiche.

Exiting the cinema my brother and i heard a girl disputing the worth of the film to her friend stating 'but what is the point of it all'. Well, to paraphase talking heads, sometimes its nice to stop making sense.
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Movie Rocks!
RagingMidget17 August 2006
I saw this film at the world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

I can honestly say it was the best cinematic experience I have ever had. It is so wild, so creative, and filled to the brim with amazing goofiness. Two of the directors were on hand and all I could do was praise them. Before the movie they said the movie isn't suppose to have a point. It's meant to be an experience and to put a goofy grin on your face. That's exactly what happened, I had an experience. Laughed and grinned through the whole thing.

I was a little confused when there was a intermission, thought it was another joke, but when I saw the directors leave for a quick bathroom break, I knew it was real.

Most of the audiences I watched it with (I saw it twice) absolutely loved the film...although there were a few who could not handle it and had to leave...But personally, I thought it was brilliant!
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tedg17 July 2010
With a project like this, it is as likely that it is a random goof as something with some structure. It could be both.

As this was sent to me by a fellow viewer, and because I am so inclined, I tend to see structure. And what I see I like — a lot. It is essentially a series of sketches, some broken up and scattered throughout. Others continue from or extend situations and characters we know. Perhaps these sketches need to be described a bit, as they are what most people will see.

They are tiresome in their humor. Unless you are Japanese, the satire will be lost. But they are amazingly clever in terms of the imagery: striking, unexpected and sometimes disturbing. With all the mastery in the images, they are surprisingly uncinematic, as if this was made not by real filmmakers but by TeeVee or music video people. There are little dramas of teen angst and performance played out, as apt as any John Hughes movie. But when it comes to this sort of thing, my benchmark is "Lily Chow Chow."

But it is the structure that matters here. The large arc here is the visit to Earth by an alien, we see at the very beginning. What we see is what he would experience of us if he encountered a Japanese high school. The main characters here are three girlfriends and three brothers. Their baseline skits are set in ordinary reality with exaggerated behavior. Layered on that are diverse performances, many of dance that they do that get as abstract as the rest I will describe. Layered on that are their numerous dreams and illustrated stories. And layered on that is the story of and references to making the movie.

Any of these is likely to be less or more abstract. They are woven together by recurring characters (including strange parasitic creatures that can be played musically). At the higher level of the dreams and outer framing, we have the same actors playing multiple roles. I haven't taken the time to map them out as I think there is no special insight other than the quantum blurring.

This is an adventure in exploring new cinema by structure. It is just an experiment, so we shouldn't expect it to change lives. But I can easily see how someone can refine and master these techniques to do so.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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More fun that Nacho Libre...and Nacho was much better then i expected
Mab89025 June 2006
Funky Forest… I have waited 1 night to let this all sink in.

First of all a little back story. One year ago, I went to the New York Asian Film Festival and saw the film, Taste of Tea. This was a delightful family story which I surprising loved, even though I am the kind of guy that will never turn down the cheesy Hollywood summer block buster.

One year latter I have returned to the Film Festival. Although in New York this festival is packed with violent Korean films, Funky Forest remains the festival's logo for its T-Shirts. So the question you should be asking is, what is all the hype about? Strange foreign film at an underground festival that sells out every show it plays. The hype of course revolves around 1 man, Katsuhito Ishii, or perhaps that's one mans unique brain.

Funky Forest as mentioned by the commenter before me is like watching a Cronenberg comedy. Nevertheless it goes farther then that, it is like if Cronenberg, Lynch, and M. Barney, all had their head infused with each other and then Adam Sandler hit them with a silly stick in till the being could not breath.

If anyone is supposed to summarize what the film is about, then all commenter on this site will fail…miserably. One of my friends described it as watching shorts for 3 hours. I would agree it's a whole bunch of shorts, like a pulp film in a way. The stories are kind of connected but you are enjoying the show more then trying to figure out where it all hangs in the balance of the film.

I am giving this film a 9/10 because it did get a little long and tedious, but nevertheless the film had so many memorable moments that it is well worth anybodies time.

All that I am left to say is that as I left the theater I had an urge to buy the DVD, or a soundtrack, but instead all that was on the counter for me was a T-Shirt, and so of course, I bought it.

SEE THE FILM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Enjoy guitar brothers, mole brothers, little Asian girls, planet pico, dreamscapes, 3 babbling girls, and of course Homeroom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Funky Forest: Zero Contact ...
UniqueName768 January 2007
To say Funky Forest: The First Contact is a bad movie is an understatement of incredible proportions. I can really get into a good art house film, even a surreal and twisted romp like El Topo, Naked Lunch, and Survive Style 5+, because those movies actually have something worth discussing when the credits roll.

FFFC attempts at every avenue to be this deep and intellectual, essentially there is no substance in this movie. This movie is badly done, the visuals in this movie are not inspiring, the dialog is worse, the musical numbers destroy this movie.. I chuckled for GUITAR BROTHERS, but that was immediately wiped out by something completely unnecessary, and irrelevant. It attempted to be deep and meaningful I think, but its just pretentious disoriented nonsense. Freshman film students without a camera could craft something more interesting.

Guitar Brothers and the stand up routines in between skits get 1 point each, everything else is just badly paced, pseudo-creative, heavy handed attempts at being AS good as films by other REAL directors like, Sogo Ishii, David Lynch, and Jodoworsky. Give me a break. I am convinced that people that rave about FFFC are doing so because they have no idea of what they saw, because it was nothing but mild pertinent statements here and there mixed with stupidity and blended until you puke on your own shoes.

This movie was an extreme disappointment, coming off the high that was Survive Style 5+, a film that actually has meaning, combined with excellent use of scenery, cinematography, catchy dialog, funny moments, good soundtrack, excellent performances, fantastic pacing and flow. FFFC features the exact opposite in every way, boring scenery (20 minutes staring at a bland beach at night? a completely white stage? Alien balls floating in white space? a dinky school hallway and then a... school hallway?), terrible cinematography, forgettable dialog, nothing funny or humorous, save the fact you just wasted your life for two hours, soundtrack?, amateurish performances, uneven, disjointed, and often flat out dragging pacing, zero flow whatsoever.

There are those that claim this is what makes FFFC a great movie, that it is so unconventional at every turn that its pure genius. This is simply a way to stroke your own ego it seems, because "unpredictable" could be a good quality for a film if it wasn't coupled with "boring", "innane", and "terrible". Personally I have spoken with two people who admitted to me that FFFC was terrible when they left the theater, but overwhelming rave by art-house elitist made them watch the movie again and then come back to me with a... "Hey it was pretty good I liked it".

I'm going to put my foot down, this movie is slop, I don't care if Roger Ebert says this film is the best thing he's ever watched since he lost his own virginity. "The Emperor's new cloak" I say... this movie is no way indicative of the other psychedelic/trippy films to come from Japan in the last 10 years. Taste of Tea, Party 7, and Kamikaze Girls are much better movies (even with a low budget), and none can honestly compare with Survive Style 5+. Watch FFFC only if your interested in making a pretentious pile of nothing on a shoestring budget.
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Really strange, really weird, really pleasant something
ChungMo8 November 2006
Nothing can prepare you even if you get a description. Very bizarre set pieces with little or no connection that was apparent to this viewer. The segments sometimes have weird grotesque imagery and sometimes are extremely commonplace. The stories follow no conventional narrative form and end in unexpected ways.

While the film doesn't have the drive of an equally strange film, "Survive Style +5", it does have a pleasant tone despite the repeated scenes with fleshy deformities, men with cow-like nipples, giant orifices and excrement like excretions. A lot of people will be turned off but the film holds a number of unexpected delights. I, for one, was delighted to hear Asano sing the Captain Harlock theme song.

Overlong, perhaps better seen in pieces, but a good film.
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Surreal as surreal can be...
mutatd15 February 2011
This film is THE weirdest film of all time. Forget Eraserhead, Brazil, even the original Wizard of Oz- This film beats them all. Set out in an odd sketch style, the film has no real storyline, as each sketch is completely different. This film also has no real genre- but it contains what seems to be some slight hints of comedy. The film gets weirder as it goes along- from mild comedians wearing white who go by the name of 'The Mole Brothers' to a schoolgirl who finds a man who seems to be dressed as a yellow creature, who, with his odd friend, persuades her to stick a white worm-like moving wire up her navel... Only to produce a yellow coloured anus that squirts. The man's friend then sticks his hand up the anus, and pulls out a soaking sushi chef... This is an example of the bizarre surrealism of this film. This film is well filmed, interesting- but weird. Really weird. Almost sick, with all the latex creatures, semen like liquid coming from various places on alien like creatures. Most people would not like this acid-trip of a film. But, it has gained a cult following, and if you are one who has a love for the surreal, watch this masterpiece. 10 out of 10, weird LIKE NO OTHER FILM.
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Among the few movies I've ever seen that I would rate a 10.
wolfsemen10 January 2007
...not to say it isn't without flaw, but this movie has a certain something that is somehow defining of the viewer's personality. I could never be friends with a person who doesn't like this movie. If you feel the same, watch this on every first date, talk about it afterward and it could prove to be a useful tool for screening out would-be suitors. Among my very short list, Cha no Aji also received a 10 in my book. The soundtrack CD also features well-suited weirdness. Little Tempo is the name of the dub band frequently heard throughout both Naisu no Mori and Cha no Aji. I would also recommend Frog River and the Grasshoppa! short film series.
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Referential Cinema Pulsed with Japanese Pop Culture
ekeby24 May 2009
If you've read the other reviews here (and elsewhere), you get the idea. It's a combination of loosely connected segments that are funny, surreal, and nonsensical. But, of course, it's much more than that, despite any of the directors' assertions that it's a meaningless bit of fun.

So if it's not meaningless, what is it? I think the clue is in the title. My dictionary says funky means 1) strong musical rhythm, 2) modern and stylish in an unconventional way, and 3) strongly musty. That would describe this forest, though it's important to remember that you can't always see the forest for the trees. (For non-English speakers, "can't see the forest for the trees" is an aphorism meaning you don't always realize you are in a forest because there are so many individual trees to look at. Or something like that.)

In this case, the Funky Forest is our culture, particularly our cinematic and pop culture. I'm American and this movie is Japanese, so for me, the pop culture references were mostly inaccessible. I recognized a lot of stylistic content from Japanese TV and cartoons, but I had the feeling the movie would have had much more depth for me if I'd grown up Japanese.

However, the cinema references are more easily grasped; the work of several film directors sprung to mind as I watched this.

At the top of the list, I'd put David Lynch, for serious-looking, slightly surreal scenes with absurd dialog. The creatures in Forest suggested more Lynch than Cronenberg to me.

Tarentino's mixed-up, episodic, circular story-telling is used. Speaking of circular-story telling, there is a funny comment on Rashomon too.

Fellini. Not for unusual-looking people, because there isn't much of that. But because he also took bits of dialog that could have been or were actually from real life and put them into contexts that made them seem absurd if not incomprehensible. The visuals of Juliet of the Spirits, Fellini's first color film, came to mind. And, I noticed, as with Fellini's 8- 1/2, Funky Forest only makes sense by being self-referential.

What makes Funky Forest somewhat unique is the way it explodes familiar if not clichéd movie scenes. Dialog that starts off mundane can soon become absurdly confrontational, often by one character focusing on some bit of minutia that, if the rules of social convention were followed, should have been overlooked or ignored. Happily for us, social convention is thrown out the window here, with wonderfully silly results.

I have no doubt that in future this film will be the subject of more than one Phd thesis. And the analysis will probably be fascinating. In the meantime, it really isn't necessary to understand what's going on to appreciate this movie. In fact, I think that's the point. In reverse. If you don't understand what's going on, you may not have a good time.

Me, I enjoyed this film enormously, and I'd love to own the soundtrack.
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