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Its streets overrun with children, the village of Kaname has distinguished itself with the highest birth rate in Japan. Its citizens are excited-tomorrow, the Prime Minister arrives to formally celebrate Kaname's demographic distinction. The spirit is festive, except for one 14-year-old girl. She knows the secret of Kaname's fecundity, and she's typing up a tell-all letter to a prominent journalist, revealing the crazy, complicated tale. It all began 14 years ago... Betrayed and disgraced, big-city reporter Kazuya Mizuno is banished to a desk at Kaname's boring little town newspaper. But Kaname isn't as boring as it seems on the surface. Not with characters around like Shimeko, a girl genius with a childlike lack of propriety, and her ace fisherman/folk-singer dad. Or the overbearing and unpleasant local Shinto priest, a former Christian cultist. Or Endo, Kazuya's new colleague, a bitter drunk after his son's suicide. Or Kin, a former (?) Marxist terrorist, now a hermit on his boat ... Written by
Rupert Bottenberg for Fantasia Film Festival
Michie Itô is great as the genius girl who breaks out in an allergic rash when she gets near stupid people, and who gives birth to a girl who has no bellybutton because she was born in an egg. It's all here. The reason for wars and other bad things is that people are not sexually satisfied. So, create a potion that will make everyone want to have sex all the time, all the unhealthy people will die from exhaustion, and then the world will be overrun with children. The march of civilization will stop but at least so will the wars and corruption. Interesting idea, but the acting and the storytelling in this nearly three hour film are so bad it can only work by virtue of a train wreck curiosity. It may become a cult classic. It's got full frontal nudity and a fifty persons naked orgy at the end. You can't take this film seriously but it does make a case for taking pity on it. It's bad, frighteningly bad, but it's shooting for being so bad it's good, hoping to create a pathetic charm. And it succeeds, to a degree. I admit to sorta liking this film after it was over but sitting through it had many difficult moments.
It's definitely not a pink film and I even hesitate to call it weird. It's more just earnestly underachieving. There's a wholesome quality to it too. It's strangeness isn't typical of Japanese weirdness, it's more like midnight-movie camp. It's structure is that of a fifteen year old girl (the one without a belly-button) narrating the secret of why her small community has such a high fertility rate: "It all started fourteen years ago when 'that man' came to our village", and then it takes its sweet time getting to the present. There isn't really an allure that something erotic might happen, although Michie Itô's character has a way of leading you to the edge every time she shows up, but there is a continuing implication that the story might unfold in an interesting and fulfilling way.
It's not Christopher Guest weird, where everyone seems to exist in their own orbit, and it's not Satoshi Miki witty weird, it's more like Godzilla ... with animated sequences from a third-grader thrown in.
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