Plastics salesman Oshima disappeared without a word to anyone, and has been missing for two years. Shohei Imamura and his crew follow Oshima's fiancé Yoshie and actor Shigeru Tsuyuguchi as they investigate the disappearance.
In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.
Mr. Ogata lives a complicated life: he is a pornographer making two skin flicks per day and trying to stay beneath the radar screen of the local mob; he deeply loves his ailing wife Haru who's cursed by the restless spirit of her dead first husband; he also has a mistress, a step-son who wants to go to university, and a step-daughter entering adolescence. He lusts after his step-daughter, and when Haru finds out about those sexual advances, she asks him to marry the girl. Haru even signs over her business to him, and a crisis ensues when Ogata uses her nest egg to buy equipment so he and his pals can set up their own film processing lab. Surreal images and events weave their way into Ogata's life.Written by
I understand its significance but can't get into it
This is a black comedy about an underground pornographer who has to deal with government follies and yakuza extortionists; he's attracted to his step-daughter and lives with his wife, who's convinced that her ex- husband is reincarnated as a carp who watches her every move from the living room aquarium, and jumps out of the water when disapproving of her actions. There's also a sub-plot about an incestuous father trying to star in one of protagonist's films by having sex with his own retarded daughter. As if this onslaught of strange ideas isn't enough, the movie is directed by Shohei Imamura, whose films are usually excellent by default.
So what went wrong? Well, first, off, the movie is very boring, despite all those strange ideas. It has a simple plot, but goes on for too long and a lot of situations get repetitive and boring quickly. The narrative is very disorienting; without any exposition whatsoever, broken into short, talky vignettes which are interrupted by spontaneous flashbacks and dream sequences which end on a still image. To top it off, the movie ends up being a movie within a movie, as indicated by the beginning and the end of it. It's an interesting way of leading the plot, but is overall annoying to follow and the story gets old fast.
The Pornographers (original title actually translates to An Introduction to Anthropology Through the Pornographers) is based on Akiyuki Nosaka's novel, which is more in-depth because it apparently discusses tengu- dildos and the making of a fantasy film about the rape of Nanking. Imamura's movie is very harsh and satirical, poking fun at the aimless youth and the sleazy filmmakers who think their job is philanthropic. It has a couple of humorous scenes (and Buddhist references), but the majority of the movie isn't much engaging.
The cinematography is pretty interesting; much like the works of some other New Wave Japanese directors (most notably Teshigahara and Yoshida), Imamura's movie has a voyeuristic tone to its visuals (which is pretty fitting considering the plot) - characters are seen through keyholes, greasy windows and glass doors. The mise-en-scene is always completely cluttered, with a lot of random household objects occupying the frame. Some shots are seen through the aquarium, which serves for a nice effect here and there. Also, there are many long takes. It's really an interesting visual approach, combined with Fellini-esque oniric sequences, which work in a strange way.
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