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Archive for December 7th, 2010

 

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1972 91m) DVD1/2

Aka. Joshuu 701-gô: Sasori

To be deceived is a woman’s crime

p  Kinio Yoshimine  d  Shunya Ito  w  Fumio Konami, Hiro Matsuda  ph  Hanjiro Nakazawa  ed  Osamu Tanaka  m  Shunsuke Kikuchi  art  Tadayuki Kawana

Meiko Kaji (Nami Matsushima), Rie Yokoyama (Katagirl), Isao Natsuyagi (Sugimi), Fumio Watanabe (Warden), Yayoi Watanabe (Yukiko Kida), Akemi Negishi (Otsuka),

The very genre of exploitation does, by its very name, conjure up images of low-budget, violence-laden mayhem designed purely to give kicks to its thrill-seeking audience.  It was in honour of such films as this that Tarantino made Kill Bill, but not even in Quentin’s wildest, most unsubtle dreams could he dream of making a film as visceral as this.  Many of the genre pieces of the time, such as Lady Snowblood, the Reiko Ike nude splatter-fests such as Sex and Fury and the extreme pinku films of the period were little more than trash, popular for their sensationalism.  The Female Prisoner series – and this first film in particular – were different, in that their violence, sex and general sadism had a point beyond voyeuristic titillation, not merely a force of proto-feminism, but a display of technical virtuosity that makes it one of the most challenging films ever made.

            Nami Matsushima is framed by a sadistic, bent narcotics cop and sent down to prison where she tries various forms of escape.  She becomes target not only of the guards, but also the senior prisoners, the Japanese equivalent of the kapo in Nazi death camps.  Wanting an end to her shenanigans, the cop who betrayed her, Sugimi, enrols another prisoner, Katagirl, to kill Matsu and make it look like an accident.  When Katagirl helps orchestrate a riot against the guards, she makes the others send Matsu in for them to deal with, and Matsu finds herself at the mercy of an angry mob of women desperate to let loose a veritable reservoir of pent up hatred. (more…)

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(France 1963 11 min)

Directors/Animators Alexander Alexeieff, Claire Parker; Story Nikolai Gogol

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Russian Alexandre Alexeieff, with the help of two wives, Alexandra Grinevskya and American Claire Parker, developed the technique of Pinscreen animation, a technique that reached its zenith in Alexeieff and Parker’s Le Nez. In Pinscreen animation the image is created by the shadows of thousands (in their case, a staggering 240,000) of moveable pins embedded on a screen and lit from a certain angle.

Though you cannot necessarily judge a work of art by how difficult it is to accomplish one need only imagine for a second how painstaking it is to create detailed compositions in this manner in order to get a sense of the creative spark and artistic verve required just to begin.

For that alone, Le Nez is astonishing. You hear a lot about the freedom of endless possibilities that animation gives artists. What you hear less of is how this freedom is counterweighted by the laboriousness of the process. Whatever ends up on screen is earnt. In animation no film-makers have come closer to matching perspiration to inspiration as Alexeieff and Parker. They worked first in Paris and then in Canada, where the Canadian Film Board of Canada (an important part of animation history) were the only company willing to stand the cost of the process.

(more…)

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