A look a the lives of two sex workers in Tokyo: Rei, who works as an S&M dominatrix, and Ayumi, in the more straightforward profession of call girl. In addition to their working life, the ... See full summary »
An ordinary man with an ordinary life joins a mysterious club. The membership lasts for one year only and there is one rule: no cancellation under any circumstance. The man enters into a whole new exciting world he never before experienced where crazy love goes wilder and crazier. Is it an illusion or is it real? Welcome to the world no one has dared to explore until now!Written by
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People tend to divide things into two categories, then they decide which group they belong to. It provides them with an identity and a sense of security.
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After all the end credits have rolled, we see the 5 people viewing the film-within-a-film standing/sitting uncomfortably in the waiting area, for a second or two. Nothing is said, then the screen goes dark, finally. See more »
Cryptic little Japanese avant-garde piece, which will both reward and frustrate the open mind in good measure
The thing that has always bugged me with regards to films about sadomasochism pertains as to how those primarily interested in such things are depicted, that is to say as unbalanced; deranged and generally mentally ill. Filmmakers often see things such as sadomasochism, I think, as outsiders to the pursuit, and thus deem it detached from the mainstream, which in mainstream language means that it is strange and perverted. Away from this, S&M is often the butt of a joke; rendered a 'go to' event for cheap laughs and engaged in by cartoon characters as well as those out for cheap kicks by writers. This is no better evident than in 2004's Eurotrip. The fact is, I am yet to see a film which accurately puts across the sense that the people depicted have genuinely reached a decision to undertake this activity. The characters are often skittish or disturbed. This is in ways that those very much into pulling members of the opposite sex in a loud, rowdy bar for one night gratification never are.
R100 seems to fall somewhere smack bang in the middle of all this – it does nothing to deconstruct the head of an S&M enthusiast, yet resists the easily obtained own goals upon which a director can doom his work. In a sense, it has nothing to do with S&M – this is in spite of its promotional material and the fact after seeing it, critics could talk of nothing else BUT its S&M content. In actuality, the film is a well-meaning and ambitious piece which aims, although fails, to deliver the sort of controversial avant-garde punch a Gaspar Noé film might otherwise succeed in doing. Instead, it comes off as a blend of "Being John Malkovich" and "The Player" with bits and pieces of famous Japanese auteur Ozu thrown in for good measure. Nao Ōmori plays Katayama, a low level department store salesman with a routine existence in a standard Japanese suburban town which he shares with his young son and elderly father, who comes around to visit every so often. This is punctured by the fact his wife is dying in a coma and he is on the brink of losing his job, although this second pointer is not explored later on as much as the film has you think it might.
For reasons that remain unclear, indeed so hazy that we must question as to whether they even happen, Katayama visits an underground club known as "Bondage" (an English word in a Japanese film, no doubt designed to distort the viewing experience for native viewers) where a deal is forged whereby various dominatrices of varying ages and sizes, but all with unworldly abilities, will randomly visit him for flash-sessions. Thereafter, the women will appear and disappear; they will beat him up in the street with nobody batting an eyelid; they will be there, wherever he may be, waiting for a spot-session. Do the patrons of a sushi bar look on in disgust at the fact a dominatrix smashes up Katayama's food with her bare hands prior to him eating it? Or is it Katayama's own grotesque eating habits which infuriate them, and the woman isn't even there. I notice a heavy insistence for the film to have us focus on the pills the Bondage club owner has in his possession when first visited. Was he just a drug dealer the whole time?
But none of this really tells you all of it. There are several ideas and films going on here at once: the fourth-wall breaking narrative about the producers who don't like the veteran director doing what he wants in his final film (which, it seems, doubles up as the film WE'RE watching); the tale of a middle aged man losing his mind through what appears to be an ecstasy addition and a bog-standard kitchen sink drama about a man and his son soldiering on through domestic strife. Try to imagine Ozu's "Good Morning" propped up by "My Neighbour Totoro", as imaginary friends and blurred lines between escapism and realism take centre stage. In ways that do not entirely make sense, Katayama ends up falling afoul of this organisation, whose earlier eerie ability to see people on the other sides of doors without the aid of CCTV lives up to its promise as his family become wrapped up in a postmodern series of life threatening games.
Why it is that this organisation goes from operating out of a grotty, pokey headquarters in a dilapidated apartment blocks to being able to boast CEO's flying in on private jets from abroad, is never explained. Nor too is as to why this indomitable "Hostel"-like underground gang do not merely hit the switch on his wife's life support machine as she lies there defenceless in a hospital. As it wears on, deliberately I'm sure, the piece falls apart at the seams; becoming stranger and stranger although maintain the ability to make total sense.
The ultimate problem with the film lies with the fact it doesn't have enough of a leash on it. I like the idea of there never being any mistresses in the first place, and that the women are essentially a metaphor for how drug addiction at a time of domestic angst can lead on to very bad things: hallucinations and the neglect of one's loved ones. There is a scene with a police man about half way through, where he outlines nothing can be done for the fact adults beating on adults in controlled environments is something they must get on with. He compares the relationship between master and slave as being akin to pro-wrestler and pro-wrestler: when one hurts the other, they do not sue for assault. I looked up the actress who played the aforementioned CEO: the leanest, meanest dominatrix-cum-brothel running yuppy type in history. It turns out she has a wrestling credit to her name. Is there something wrapped up in that?
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