It’s good to explore the cultures of places far away. Doing this can help make us a lot more understanding of the views of others, better able to celebrate what we have in common and appreciate what makes us different, rather than simply go around labelling everyone else as foreigners and you know, ‘not like us’. Looking to fully play my part in this global exploration and to help reduce my own prejudices and ignorance, I’ve been spending the past few weeks finding out all about Japan and the Japanese, through the medium of film. First I watched “Kamikaze Girls” and discovered what it’s like to be a teenage Japanese girl in modern Japan. After that I watched “The Masked Girl” and found out what’s it’s like to be a Japanese superhero. Then finally I watched this film and came to understand the difficulties of being a young man in Japan, coping with a father who lacks parenting skills, (well two fathers actually). So my conclusion? Japan is, ‘interesting’. (Insightful stuff I know.) Actually Japanese films are great, because they have a whole, different set of characteristics to just about any other. I just wish I could relate to them more, but sadly my Western brain is just too limited to comprehend most of them; I must continue my studies further…
1979 – Certificate: Unrated – Japan
On some levels, this is a great, erotic thriller, with a wide range of suitably nasty, unpleasant and disturbing scenes. On the other hand, it’s pretty distasteful for exactly the same reasons. I didn’t really enjoy it that much, but I can appreciate it for what it is. It did feel a little like the writer had a tick-list of ‘shocking things you can include in films’ and was going to get through the whole lot, regardless of the results. Murder, kidnapping, rape, character assassination, incest, torture, Nazi worship, it’s all here; and I’ve no idea what the scene with the butter and the Alsatian was all about. At times it was a bit slow, but it does have a proper plot, is nicely filmed and in a technical sense looked excellent (considering its age and small budget). Tatsuya (the film’s main protagonist) really isn’t a very nice person! He’s a psycho playboy basically. Even before he turned nasty I hated him, he was far too intelligent, talented, attractive and rich for my liking; (not that I’m jealous or anything). With all his advantages and messed up childhood, he could easily have become Batman.
Recommended for people who like to watch challenging movies and twisted movies in general; or who’re used to exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilisations. It’s probably not worth watching if you think “Brokeback Mountain” represents the worst extremes of depraved modern cinema.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Jun Yashioji (the pop singer) whacking Tatsuya over the head with a stool, in an effort to escape; (and it looked really solid on the screen too). Her singing was pretty terrible, but at least she made an attempt to get away. Somewhat tragic timing in the end, talk about being unlucky; even though she was a bit of a bitch I did feel sorry for her.
You never know what life’s going to throw at you. Today for example, I got talked into going to see a rugby match in March, the day after my birthday and the day after I’ve been to a gig; (the New Town Kings, amazing ska band). I have zero interest in rugby. In fact, I’ve less than no interest in it, I’ve actually got anti-interest in it. The idea of paying £20 and then sitting in a cold, half empty football stadium, watching a load of blokes carrying a stupidly shaped ball around for 80 minutes, fills me with the sort of dread normally reserved for exams, opening my bank statement and getting a bollocking at work for not doing something I should have done. Anyway, here’s a mental challenge for you. Please first think of the Power Rangers in a typical episode. Okay, hold that image. Now replace them with two Japanese schoolgirls in school uniforms. Still with me? (Oh for goodness sake, keep your focus on the relevant details here.) Good. Now replace the ridiculous baddies the Power Rangers were fighting in your mind with a sinister organisation called The Clown, which wants to take over control of the Earth; (unless you have a different copy of this film, where you may find that that for some reason the translation turns The Clown into The Joker, although not the Batman one). If you’ve managed that successfully (and well done if you have) then you’re part way to conceptualising this Japanese action movie. (Well I say movie, but it’s only actually 45 minutes long. It does feel very much like a pilot episode for a TV series that’s never existed.)
2008 – Certificate: Not Rated – Japan
Despite this being an entirely absurd film it’s actually quite entertaining, for both intentional and unintentional reasons. Join best friends Anne and Eunice (the names of the heroines in my translation of the film), as they do battle with The Clown. We never really find out a lot about The Clown and the motivation of the girls’ games teacher makes zero sense to me too. And I’m sorry to say this and I know it’s kind of sexist and everything, but Anne really does ‘run just like a girl’ the first time she appears in the consolidated armour. It wouldn’t inspire me if I saw her run like that and was waiting for her to come and help me fight a group of ‘henchman’ and the weird guy in the mask and leathers. (And before I forget, note for translators. We normally call it “bust size” okay? Also, you don’t have to bother to keep adding subtitles to “Mmmm”, as that’s much the same in any language). There are plenty of silly laughs to be had in this movie and it’s really quite sweet in its own way. I’ve not checked but I don’t suppose it was nominated for any Oscars.
Recommended for anyone who likes films at the “Dude, Where’s My Car?” level or below. Not good for people who think a film needs any sort of depth to it. No one’s going to drown in this movie.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Waking up chained to an under-lit table, surrounded by weirdos and finding out that you’ve had your body transformed somehow and you’re about to be brain-washed so you’ll do the bidding of an evil organisation know as The Clown, I imagine is a tough situation to accept. Then finding out soon after that you’re going to have to fight to destroy this organisation before it kills you, probably makes things worse. Still, Anne more or less takes it all in her stride. That’s got to be badass at any age.