Saturday 13 October 2018

"MFKZ" (Guardian 12/10/18)

Dirs: Shojiro Nishimi, Guillaume Renard. Animation with the voices of: Kenn Michael, Michael Chiklis, Dascha Polanco, Giancarlo Esposito. 94 mins. Cert: 15

The title of this exhaustingly grimy and chaotic collaboration between French and Japanese animators is both a blunt contraction of the Oedipal expletive and a statement of attitudinal intent. No time for anything so wussy as vowels: writer/co-director Guillaume “Run” Renard instead whips his own graphic novel’s highlights into a frenetic postmodern melange that sends pizza delivery boy Angelino (voiced, in this English redub, by Kenn Michael) scooting through diversely appropriated cultures. Any film encompassing Nazi-punching lucha libre wrestlers and top-secret moonbases should by rights be huge fun, but even Renard finds himself conceding “What the F*** is Going On?” in a midfilm graphic; enjoyment will depend on a tolerance for that randomness teenagers apparently find hilarious.

By far the most impressive aspect is its density of vision: every corner of every frame has been worked over in some way. Renard’s Dark Meat City – a teeming reimagining of latter-day L.A., spawned of many hours sat before ‘hood movies, Grand Theft Auto and harder-core rap promos – is a mesh of interconnecting urban legends, overlaid with armies of human and insectoid cockroaches, then topped with ziggurats of trash and advertising space. If you’re looking for world building, you’re come to the right place. Yet its principal architects prove keener to flytip this secondhand imagery than they are to sort through it. There’s so much of everything – including a last-reel nuclear strike, intended to level matters up – that MFKZ threatens to mean nothing very much.

Pause to analyse the overload of visual information for even a moment, however, and some of what’s being dumped before us starts to look suspect indeed. At least one eyebrow might be raised at Renard’s effusively enthusiastic portrayal of a violent crime-ridden ghetto populated by gun-toting hulks and pneumatic babes; even Angelino’s bulbous, berry-round head appears dangerously close to the kind of racist caricature stamped on the front of 1930s boot blacks. (In this context, the city’s name sounds doubly icky.) It’s hitting cinemas for one night only, which may be all a splurge like this deserves – but don’t discount it from becoming a repository of retina-grabbing background visuals for questionably vogueish club nights.

MFKZ played in selected cinemas on Thursday night. 

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