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964 Pinocchio 
Written by: on March 17th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, Setpember 14th, 1991
Director: Shozin Fukui
Writer: Shozin Fukui
Cast: Onn Chan, Kyoko Hara, Koji Kita, Ranyaku Mikutei, Hage Suzuki

DVD released: December 28th, 2004
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
DVD Release: Unearthed Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

The first of the Japanese Cyberpunk Collection by Unearthed Films, I unfortunately have no idea of its real title. The box’s title and the IMDb state its name as 964 Pinocchio, yet the English subtitles and the plot synopsis state it’s Pinocchio 964. This name dyslexia/placement problem isn’t too surprising. Asian actors who first came to the west had the same problem of reversing their names around, choosing misspellings until methods of translation were developed and refined. It’s quite ironic that I mention things in reverse as I first reviewed Rubber’s Lover, Shozin Fukui’s second theatrical release before completing this. 964 Pinocchio appears to be on a grander scale of cinematic techniques studied in the Shozin’s short, Gerorisuto, which can be found on the Rubber’s Lover DVD. Both the unwilling participation of crowds and drawn out scenes of vomiting showcase the director’s need to shock his audience for attention. In fact, Shozin Fukui modified sound systems in theaters to amplify them to what might have been unsafe levels. Coincidently, Shozin envisioned the role of Pinocchio to be a lead vocalist and confidant, yet the soon-to-be actor died before shooting started.

964 Pinocchio is a dysfunctional sex android unable to maintain an erection or recall a memory of his past. Pinocchio (Hage Suzuki) joins with Kyoko (Onn Chan) who soon become co-Dependant upon each other’s memories. Once Pinocchio love transcends to the physical with Kyoko, paradise is lost and after supernatural experiences both become each other’s worst enemies. Soon, Kyoko reveals his whereabouts with Pinocchio’s inventor who only wishes to rid of him. Shozin Fukui’s storytelling and timing is weak when comparing to its prior, Rubber’s Lover. Shozin Fukui’s strong camera use is not as apparent in 964 Pinocchio. In its defense, the musical compositions and techno scores were much stronger than Rubber’s Lover. Also, sometimes ambient sounds control the scenes and the nonstop wails of Pinocchio might drive one to stop the film in mid thrust. Overacting of emotions and feelings elate to the absurd. Shozin used some inventive and unique ideas in this low-budget film, yet the scenes were beating a dead horse; loosing any effectiveness and tone it built up. The ending had somewhat of a toxic avenger feel to it, seemed surprisingly calming, and gave an elated feeling of completion. I’m still not totally sure that I truly understood 964 Pinocchio, nor do I feel compelled to re-watch this film for quite some time.

The DVD:

The feature films colors are quite colorful from outside scenes to underground scenes behind stark Fincher backgrounds. The transfer is above par, considering the low grade media it was filmed with.
This DVD transfer is progressive scan.
Title screens appear to be the original titles rather than remade titles.

The Short film “Caterpillar” (33 Minutes) appears to be shot in either video or substandard film stock. This short, should be called a study-in-film rather than a film. The interview (33 Minutes) is interesting although Shozin’s enthusiasm is quite warn, it is what I feel to be the highlight of Pinocchio. There is a gallery of stills that can be found in the feature, not unlike the card in the DVD case.

No DTS or 5.1 tracks here, yet instead opted for its original stereo track. I must admit that I was quite disappointed with this release as a whole and found little redeeming from this title. In my opinion, Shozin Fukui should direct other screenplays rather than depending on himself to do it all. As Rubber’s lover demonstrated, his timing and composition is great (considering the full frame) with a screenplay that lacked. Yet, low-budget films at best are pipe dreams. It is next to impossible to create something redeeming. I admire Shozin’s attempt of a high-concept with limited resources and believe that his tenacity will see him through.

For more information about 964 Pinocchio visit Unearthed Films here.

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