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Young Tokiko works at a geisha house as a maid, waiting for her maiko practice (apprenticeship of geisha) to begin. The movie depicts detailed lifestyle of geishas at that time, showing their rules, loves, beauties and humanities.
Miyazaki asks Noboru and Momose to pretend they are dating to stop bad rumor about him. Both begin to act like a couple in front of others and soon he begins to develop feelings for Momose, who is still in love with Miyazaki.
Jiro (Naoto Takenaka) is a man who can do anything for you for a price. Part odd jobs man and part private eye he takes on tasks as simple as clearing out storage lockers to tracking down lost items. That's what he's asked to do by a beautiful young woman (Hiroko Sato) who shows up at his warehouse living space one afternoon. This young woman asks Jiro to help her track down a lost Rolex watch that she says was accidentally thrown out of a helicopter while she was scattering the ashes of her late father. Jiro knows the story isn't true, but he needs the money so he and the young woman begin poking around miles of woodland in the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. Miraculously Jiro finds the wrist watch, but it looks to be caked in rotting meat. Needy but not stupid Jiro hands the watch over to a sympathetic police woman he knows for analysis. Little does Jiro know that the discovery of this Rolex will lead to another case, one filled with violence, sex and danger, one that ... Written by
Takashi Ishii continues to be enigmatic, troubling and impressive with what is perhaps his most difficult and demanding film.
A beautiful girl hires Jiro to find an expensive watch that she has apparently lost in a forest. He doesn't believe her story but accepts the job anyway, and soon things unravel and become altogether more twisted and murderous. To complicate things even more he has attracted the interest of a persistent policewoman...
This film doesn't lean on the narrative of the first film much, but it's clearly all one emotional journey and knowledge of the first film really is a requirement.
The first film has a number of standout, haunting, scenes (like Jiro's pursuit of a gun or his trying to rescue a drowning woman from a sinking car) and this film also has moments that stay with you long after the film has ended.
A crying woman is objectified by the camera - she sobs while we look, lingering too long, on her naked flesh. She's a person, but she's also a sexual object. We're troubled. How are we supposed to react to this?
In what must be one of the most loaded and complex sex scenes ever seen in a film one character is, mentally, a broken child, but she's also, partly, a calculating seductress. The other character is a good man, but part of him wants to be seduced and doesn't care about anything else. They find solace in each other. Is this a good thing or a bad one? The sex itself is simple, but the drives and histories behind it are not. Perhaps a good man should act better, but he finds himself persuaded by the immediacy of flesh. The couple on screen fall into each other - our minds race.
Four characters drag bodies up a mountain in the night. Logic and self-awareness have been completely abandoned. These aren't people anymore; instead they are shadows, totally consumed by their lusts and locked into horrific behaviour.
In a scene that is almost ten minutes long a naked woman shrieks and repeatedly whips herself. It veers from being hypnotic and emotionally engaging to boring and feeling like bad performance art and then back again...
Some people, understandably, will not be able to engage with this film. Occasionally characters act and react in unlikely ways and some of the themes and depictions of sex and violence are unpleasant. But it's a film that has it's own fever-dream emotional logic, and people who can engage the film on its own terms will find it incredibly rewarding.
The performances are uniformly fantastic. As is often the case it is Ishii's women who make the most striking impression. Hiroko Satô is the obvious standout as the tormented femme-fatale, but Shinobu Ōtake's performance is her equal as the demented harridan mother. Naoto Takenaka is as impressive here as he was in the original film. It's his performance that gives this film its heart and if he were a lesser actor the whole thing would have fallen apart. It does not - instead it soars.
This isn't a film for everyone, but some will find it to be bewilderingly intelligent, moving and truly audacious. Will Ishii return to this character again? Perhaps not, it does feel like the character has come full-circle, but I still find myself hoping that he does. I just hope he doesn't leave it 17 years again.
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