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Archive for December 10th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1979 73m) DVD1

Aka. Akai kami no onna

A woman alone is eating noodles

p  Akira Miura  d  Tatsumi Kumashiro  w  Haruhiko Arai  novel  Kenji Nakagami  ph  Yonezo Maeda  ed  Akira Suzuki  m  Yuukadan 

Junko Miyashita (Red Headed Woman), Renji Ishibashi (Kozo), Ako (Kazuko), Moeko Ezawa (Kozo’s boss), Noboru Mitani (alcoholic), Miyako Yamaguchi (Haruko), Hatsuo Yamatani, Kai Ato,

Not much is written of the infamous strand of pink Japanese movies known as roman porno in serious critical circles.  In general, it’s marginalised as disposable filth, often misogynistic in the extreme, and a sure link to the absolute depravity of hentai animation either side of the new millennium.  Very few filmmakers emerged with any credit from dipping their toes into its extremely grubby waters, with only really four coming to mind.  The first, Koji Wakamatsu, made the infamous Chronicle of an Affair, Violated Angels, Go, Go, Second Time Virgin! and the iconic Ecstasy of the Angels, all of which were reviled and praised in equal measure.  Tetsuji Takechi was even more infamous, his Daydream and Black Snow in many ways helping to found this sub genre.  Their work has never been released in English friendly editions, which leaves just two.  Noboru Tanaka made the likes of The Watcher in the Attic and A Woman Called Abe Sada, and then there’s Tatsumi Kumashiro, who even made the Schneider book of the 501 Greatest Directors.  Two of his films, arguably his best two, were released to DVD in the US, World of Geisha and this, my pick for his magnum opus and, possibly, the best pink film ever made. 

            It opens, like many films of its type, with a rape.  In this case two layabout construction site workers plan the rape of the daughter of their boss.  It turns out that she’s a virgin, but that doesn’t stop them taking her one by one.  On their way away from the crime, they pick up another woman in their truck.  She attaches herself to one of them, and allows herself to be taken back to his apartment, wherein they engage in an affair of rough sex.  Meanwhile, the other rapist finds that his victim wants him to become her lover.  (more…)

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(USSR 1975 11 min)

Director Yuri Norstein; Writer Sergei Kozlov; Voice Acting Mariya Vinogradova (Hedgehog)

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Hedgehog in the Fog doesn’t have the austerity, sobriety or the gnomic qualities of Yuri Norstein’s Tale of Tales, Battle of Kerzhenets or Seasons (the latter two made with Ivan Ivanov-Vano). Those are the kinds of subjects we expect, rightly or wrongly, to be touched by the hands of a master. Hedgehog in the Fog is a relatively run-of-the-mill, modest tale treated with an effort, craft and care that this kind of story rarely, if ever, gets.

A small and timid hedgehog is walking across the fields and through the woods, gliding along the river that dense trees guard from sight. He is off to see his friend, the bear, to take him some raspberry jam and sit under the heavens counting the stars. It’s a regular trip but he still hasn’t got used to the eerie perils of the fogbound countryside. He is scared by leaves flying out the murk, and by the hoots of a giant owl prowling comically on tiptoe behind him. He is frightened by the dark too, though never enough to curl up into a prickly ball.

(more…)

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