Tuesday 21 May 2019

Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale (USA/Japan/Germany 2018: Dir FINT)

There's more than a whiff of early Jim Jarmusch about this achingly cool end of the world sci fi film, a first feature by the Bavarian born FINT (aka Fabian Huebner).

Partly filmed in the arid gypsum wastes of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, the story, as much as there is one, involves a number of characters who randomly collide with each other on their way to witness the last gig by guitar hero Blitz. They include Mono (played by the director), the prostitute Stereo (Yûho Yamashita) - who are introduced to each other by a film within the film, 'Hi Fi Love in 6 Chapters'  - Analog (Kazushe Watanabe), biker Bubblegum (Kiki Sukezane) and a naked girl (Jiwoon Ha) whose nether areas are pixellated out, possibly referencing Japan's habit of censoring explicit nudity on film.

All the characters are tuned in - via enormous headphones and antennae - to the last station running, presided over by the appropriately named Radio (Yusuke Yamasake). Eventually, after a lot of walking about in and around brutalist architecture, they find their quest, Blitz (real life rock god Guitar Wolf) who delivers his finest performance as the rockets (or are they missiles?) fly in the background.

Fonotune is pretty much dialogue free and despite its stunning white on white visuals (Chris Cunningham's breathtaking video for 'All is Full of Love' is a good comparison), quite a slog, even at 70 minutes. The soundtrack is arguably the best thing about this, full of spiky synths and skewed pop songs: and while FINT's intention is to deliver a film which is all about the mood rather than any specific story, cool visuals and hipper than thou stylings will only get you so far; it's like an extended music video (including the objectification of women), but not one you'd ever want to watch again. I did smile at the label on the soda bottles (which feature prominently in the film) that read 'Because fuck water.'

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