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Recently seen movies #130

May 26, 2009

Daydream (Japan, 1964) – 2,5/5

Tetsuji Takechi’s psycho sexual arthouse film follows the logic of dream. The story begins when a man and a woman meet at the dentist’s office and are given strong tranquilizers. The rest of the film is either reality or hallucinations. He meets her again at a night club but finds out she’s being abused by a high class man. He tries to help her, but the situation turns into a living nightmare. Takechi uses surreal images and especially long takes effectively, but also allows the film to become too long. The Japanese government, in the middle of organizing the Tokyo Olympics and polishing the nation’s image, was reportedly less than happy with large advertising campaign Takechi’s ”disgraceful” movie was given.

However, author Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, on whose 1926 short story the movie was based on, gave Takechi his blessing, stating that this is how he would have written it in the first place if not restricted by the censorship of the time. The film version does go quite far indeed, remaining disturbing 45 after its release. After Daydream Takechi continued making controversial films, releasing The Dream of the Red Chamber later the same year, and Black Snow, which led to the director being arrested for indecency, in 1965.

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Panic in High School (Japan, 1978) – 2,5/5

Sogo Ishii was given a chance to remake his original student film as a feature length movie for Nikkatsu. No doubt it sounded like a good deal for both parties; a 21 year old director getting an experienced studio to back him up, and Nikkatsu, now mostly stuck with their pink film production, investing on a rising talent. But Ishii, who shot the film together with co-director Yukihiro Sawada, was not pleased with the results. Although the film does feature many reconizable scenes and elements Ishii’s input appears to have been toned down to some extent. The storyline of a student who goes mad and attacks his school also can’t quite carry a 94 minute film. However, a failure Panic in High School is not. The first and especially the last third are quite effective. And, unfortunately, the film has only become more timely 30 years after its release.

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Journey to Japan (Japan, 1973) -2/5

The Japanese thought Kurisuchina Rindobaagu, Christina Lindberg that is, did not make enough movies nude, so they tricked her to come to Japan… and make even more bizarre sex films. The first attacker was Norifumi Suzuki who cast miss Lindberg in his pinky violence bravura Sex and Fury (1973). Yakuza film director Sadao Nakajima was the next one in line. Lindberg plays a Swedish woman who steps into the wrong car at the airport and is kidnapped by a sex manic taxi driver. Later she asks help from nice Japanese people she meets in bar… who all turn out to be sex manics. It’s very amusing that if this movie were directed by a foreigner, it would be considered the most racist piece of filth. But since Nakajima is of Japanese nationality, the movie falls under the ”socially critical” category. Well, almost at least. Unfortunately this is not quite enough to make Lindbergs second Nippon adventure very interesting. Also disappointing is that we don’t get to hear her speak any English (or Japanese, her dialogue is in Swedish). As a consolation prize, there is one Japanese guy speaking Swedish… Director Nakajima, shooting with a shoe string budget, only manages to create a couple of visually stylish scenes. Male lead Ichiro Araki’s soundtrack is one of the film’s assets. Some of his other, superior work can be heard in Suzuki and Nakajima’s Sukeban films.

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