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Missing * Live autopsy * My Foetus * Dancing with the Devil (Black Metal documentary) * Visions: World Cinema Brazil * The Secret Agent (2004)
Best TV: Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Utopia. Best Films: Character, Earth (Tierra), Gone Girl. Best Documentary: The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
Worst Films: Mod *beep* Explosion, No Pressure (Short film), The Bunny Game.
Not Listed: * Innocence of Muslims (not listed on Imdb)
I'm trying to compile a complete list, so if you see a game missing, leave a comment and I'll add it.
Missing Divi-Dead Thrill Kill Murasaki Baby Ecstatica Deep Fear
Yakuza kannon: iro jingi (1973)
A Buddhist monk fisherman accidentally catchess a pregnant woman in a lake. He manages to give birth to the baby inside her. He raises the child as a monk. Many years later after some Yakuza dudes try to force a woman into marriage, monk Saigen intervenes by throwing buckets of faeces at them. He eventually enters a life of crime and debauchery.
Yakuza Justice isn't your typical Pinku film; it plays more like a Yakuza action films but with sex! All sex is optically censored of course. There's a massacre scene involving a machine gun which wouldn't be out-of-place in a film like: Sonatine or even Scarface. Look out for a Zatoichi/Lone wolf spoof in a field. The film is also quite heavy on humour at the start; some of it is funny; some of it doesn't fit. The sex scenes are OK but the censorship does block out most of the action. The waterfall scene is particularly good.
Recommended: A quality Pinku film but do not expect the usual; this is more a gangster film.
Music to my ears
Ongaku also known as The Music in English is directed by legendary director, Yasuzo Masumura (Moju, Hanzo, Red Angel). It was written by world famous writer, Yukio Mishima; noted for his sexual and psychological themes. In a nut shell: what we have is a pairing of director and writer who are at home with the material on offer.
The film is simply about a sexually repressed, frigid, middle-aged (?) woman who has a loveless marriage. She can no longer hear music as a result of her condition. She forms a sexual relationship with her brother hoping to quench her desires. She enlists the help of a psychiatrist to cure her frigidity and get to the root cause of her symptoms.
With the film being penned by Mishima, it's no surprise that the film is very analytical and psychological. The film is more of a psychological thriller than a horror or exploitation movie, which it sometimes gets branded as. It is similar to Moju in some ways.
With Masumura expect some dark, albeit excellently photographed visuals, mainly involving scissors. The film also contains a theme of incest and sexual repression. The film is probably only of interest to fans of Mishima, Masumura or fans of dark Japanese drama/thrillers. The other unfortunate factor is it is very difficult to get hold of - only ever released on VHS to date and is unsubtitled; a DVD release is long overdue.
The film is very good. Perfectively made in terms of visuals, even if a lot of the shots consist of black backdrops or spartan set design - it works. The plot moves at a reasonable pace and keeps the viewer guessing. For fans of either director, Masumura or writer, Mishima the film will be more of the same but, you won't be disappointed by the twistingly, twisted visuals and storytelling.
Koibito-tachi wa nureta (1973)
Wet & Weird
The story involves a young man named, Katsu returning to his home town, after fleeing from the Yakuza many years before. Upon returning he starts a tense relationship with, cinema owner, Yuko. Things start to get complicated when Katsu finds out Yuko is involved with a former classmate of his.
The film is mainly about Katsu trying to keep his identity secret, as to not alert any of his old Yakuza foes. The other main plot point involves Katsu's relationship with Yuko - an intense one where the couple struggle to find peace and constantly question their love for one another. The other plot point which keeps the audience guessing is why Katsu returned home in the first place. He comes from a peaceful fishing village; why did he escape? Did he offend some Yakuza members in his new town? Katsu is superbly played by: Toru Ohe - an actor I'm not familiar with. He portrays the character as both incredibly vulnerable, yet possibly psychotic, possessing both humour and pathos. Rie Nakagawa (Yoko) is another highlight playing a seemingly next-door type older woman, who is totally believable as Yoko. Once again, providing vulnerability behind a damaged shell.
Lovers of sex laden Pink/Roman Porno films looking for something sleazy or sexually explicit will be disappointed. While there is sex shown, it is not the film's main aspect. The film is more a drama than a sex work. Look out for an unusual game of leap frog and Katsu's dirty dittys when he plays the guitar.
Recommended: The DVD is another superb print, free from noticeable archive damage. Only extra is a trailer. Worth buying as the film has good replay value but, it is not your typical pink film and is all the better for it.
Ichijo Sayuri: Nureta yokujo (1972)
A woman called Sayuri Ichijo
Striptease artist Harumi has had enough of performing in lesbian shows, she wants to start her own strip club. Her Yakuza pimp stops her. After being charged with extreme exhibitionism by the police she starts to crack.
Hailed as a masterpiece of Pinku/Roman Porno cinema and far more erotic than some offerings, Ichijo Sayuri: Wet Desire is a surprisingly good if relatively unknown Roman Porno, at least outside Japan. Tatsumi Kumashiro does a superb job with the direction. Hiroko Isayam (Harumi) won an award from Kinema Jumpo journal; proving the acting and direction talent on display. Despite having striptease queen, Sayuri Ichijo's name in the film's title; Isayam steals the show. In fact Sayuri Ichijo hardly appears. The cinematography is also spot-on, capturing the vibrancy of Japan in its rich colourful glory. This film also features the freeze-frame cuts which a lot of Pink films from around this era seem to; I think it was first used in Japan in the film: Insect Woman. This may distract the un-initiated as it can look like DVD skipping but, it's a good alternative to the overused fade out. For Pinky Violence fans also look out for Sayuri Ichijo playing a Red Peony Gambler character on stage with wooden twin daggers.
DVD Review: Released by Kino Video (Kitsim collection). A superb print - I couldn't spot any archive damage, despite the film's age. Rich colours and good contrast. Sound is of course mono, maybe a little quiet in places but can't complain too much. The subtitles are clear and make sense - even some of the place names are translated. Only extra is a trailer. A documentary or other featurette would have been a welcome addition.
Well worth seeing if you are a fan of the genre. Despite the subject, the film focuses more on the drama, there is still a Hot scene involving candle wax and some others to keep audiences entertained.
Kerry and Me (2010)
Mediocre documentary on a less than mediocre celebrity
This documentary follows a year in the life of Kerry Katona. For those that do not know who she is - she is an ex-Page 3 topless model, was singer with band Atomic Kitten, married Westlife pop star Bryan McFadden and divorced him, appeared on Reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!", wrote some (mainly biographical) books and has been a tabloid favourite.
The documentary follows her trying to earn money by appearing in press headlines and other bits of work (e.g. modelling) and her relationship with her husband, Mark Croft - famously she ends up getting divorced.
Kerry has been subject for many documentaries before and was featured in an ITV series: "Crazy in Love". What is clear is she is never one to shy away from publicity no matter how negative. She is also intent one keeping herself in the public spotlight at all costs.
I think the documentary was intended to show her in a more positive light than the tabloids have done and to get 'behind the mask'. Unfortunately, she comes across as a self-centred publicity seeker who often cares more about herself than anyone around her, but, having said that - I haven't met her.
Interestingly, the film ends with the climb by Miley Cyrus perhaps showing she has had a struggle and wants to reach the top, or maybe; it is a pop song sung by a child for a woman who acts like one(?)
Summary: Only worth watching if you have an interest in Kerry Katona or tabloid 'slebs'.
Kaizokuban Bootleg Film (1999)
Yakuza Bites Dog
Kaizokuban Bootleg Film is a black and white, black comedy, about a retiring Yakuza member and a cop who are best friends. They embark on a road trip to attend the funeral of a mutual female friend.
The film reminded me a bit of "Man Bites Dog" - the monochrome photography, the humour and the hit-man theme bore similarities. However, "Man Bites Dog" is far superior both in terms of comedy and as a whole. Tarrantino was also clearly an influence with many references to "Reservoir Dogs" as well as stylistic similarities; once again, "Reservoir Dogs" is also superior. It also has the nihilistic edge you would find in a Kitano film. His films are also superior.
Despite being not as good as the films which inspired it, there are some plus points. The acting is good throughout, if a little over-the-top. Not all the humour works (for me anyway) but the gags which do work made me laugh out loud. the cinematography is bleak and cold which fits the film perfectly. Despite being an independent and low-budget film, it does not show too much, due to the production values being polished.
Summary: Not as good as the film it was influenced by. It may interest fans of dark Japanese comedies and Yakuza films. It's worth watching but do not expect anything extraordinary.
Donten seikatsu (1999)
A bit Hazy
Hazy Life is about two slackers. One the self-dubbed Pachinko king, Kee; the other a lazy loner guy (Tsutomu). The two meet outside a Pachinko Hall and awkwardly hit it off and start living together. There's not much more to the plot than that.
The film was directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita whose been making a name for himself directing quirky dramas and comedies. The film is shot on DV (I think) and as a result looks a bit rough but it adds to both the realism and the chaotic nature of the film. Also I'm not sure if any of the dialogue was improvised but it seems likes it was. Both lead roles are believable and convince the audience that they could be both best friends and lovable losers.
The film is nowhere near as good as some other slacker comedies such as: Slacker, Nowhere and Dazed & Confused but it still has its charm and original flavour. It's also worth seeing for the petrol station scene.
Overall: Not much to recommend it to many people but if you like slacker comedies, raw filmmaking or quirky dramas you might like it.
Coming Up: Foreign John (2009)
Believable hard-hitting drama with great performances.
Foreign John is an episode in the longish running series of short films by first time directors and writers, "Coming Up". The storyline involves John a man who works on a building site with Polish workers (hence the name Foreign John). John is trying to come to terms with the death of his recently deceased daughter. Obviously the tensions between his home life and his bereavement surface.
Coming Up films are hit and miss. This one is bang on the money. Good writing with believable dialogue and characters who could and I'm sure exist outside the film world. What makes this stand out is an absolute powerhouse of a performance by Johnny Harris who shows his anger, sadness and frustration perfectly without going over-the-top.
Highly Recommended. One of the best , if not the best of the 2009 season
London Calling (1997)
Hot stuff from Ben Dover
Ben Dover (AKA: Lynsey Honey) has made loads of porn flicks. For anyone unfamiliar with his style they're basically gonzo movies featuring pro and possibly amateur or first time porn actresses. Anyone familiar with gonzo films by say John Staligano (Buttman) or anyone else knows what to expect. There's minimal or no plot just straight hardcore sex (i.e. all sex).
There's two things which make Ben Dover videos so good: 1) the sex scenes are usually red-hot and Ben has a talent for finding girl next door type who are occasionally incredibly beautiful but more often than not look like a girl you would see in your local supermarket but they always seem to put in great performances. 2) Ben and his other cast members are characters. Making funny remarks and generally having a laugh with other cast and crew members. This makes the viewing experience more fun.
There are some great sex scenes in this; a lot of people regard the Tennis Girl (Laura Singer?) as being particularly good. The buxom part-Brazillian Antoinette Cordell is also another good scene. They're all hot and there's even a threesome thrown in.
Summary: An all-sex video. Don't expect a detailed multi-layered plot or in fact any plot but, for hot sex scenes with attractive women look no further. Recommended.
Comedy Lab: Slaterwood (2008)
Really very poor
Slaterwood is a sketch show written by and starring comedian and character actor, Peter Slater. It is part of Channel 4's Comedy Lab TV slot. Like all comedy lab series there are good and bad shows. Some make it to series; others don't. Fortunately, Slaterwood hasn't or at least not yet anyway.
Slaterwood is sort of similar to another comedy lab episode: "The Kevin Bishop Show". Both are star vehicles, both are quick-fire shows and both take swipes at television/popular culture. The Kevin Bishop Show has come under-fire recently with criticisms ranging from unfunny, poorly impersonated to distasteful. The difference between Slaterwood and The Kevin Bishop Show is that although The Kevin Bishop Show was hit and miss I still found myself getting a few laughs from it, although the repetition wears a once funny sketch as thin as tracing paper which has been ran over with a steam roller.
I'm not sure where it went wrong with Slaterwood. Peter Slater to his credit is a reasonable actor and is charismatic. The production values are good and it's clear a fair amount of money has been spent on it. Maybe the writing is to blame. Still, like a lot of Comedy Lab episodes it's basically a should have been, a could have been and is simply wasted potential. At best I would say Slaterwood is mediocre but I think (and I'm sure some viewers will agree) it's unfunny dross.