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Movies & Girls

Yuke Yuke Nidome no Shoujo (Go Go Second Time Virgin, 1969)

I actually got to this title through reading about Seijun Suzuki post Pistol Opera (see below). Like Pistol Opera, this movie isn't pretending to be anything but surreal, and yet like the same, it is a movie that plays the fast and loose storytelling so well you come crawling out of it knowing exactly what happened. YYNnS begins with the rape of Poppo, a teenage girl, on a rooftop. Her rapists take turns while a strange bespectacled boy watches a little away. The boy's expression alternates between horror and fascination -- I wasn't sure what to make of it, but it didn't make me like him more. The rapists leave Poppo to lie bleeding on the rooftop, and she wakes up in the morning with the boy beside her. He introduces himself as Tsukio. Poppo tells us a bit about herself through a flashback of a previous rape. Poppo seems fascinated by the blood spot her injuries left behind, which she equates to a second deflowering. She also notes that she was the daughter of a rape, and wonders if the tears her mother and her shed as they were raped were the tears of women. Poppo asks Tsukio to kill her. Tsukio agrees, saying he seems to be good at killing people. They develop an odd relationship over the course of the movie. Both are somewhat abandoned, depressed young people afraid of love and human company, who stick together just because. Along the way, we also discover they share a history of sexual abuse. Poppo's story comes through in a sequence of poems she recites about second time virgins, once even during another attempted rape. Tsukio sings a song about a boy leaving home after committing a crime.

The film alternates between black and white sequences for the present and colour sequences for flashbacks -- namely, all the rapes. Tsukio's rape, for example, features some grotesque group acrobatics with blood awfully reminiscent of red paint. The rapes are often over-the-top, but also quite long sequences, which have the effect of grounding the viewer in the fact it's in real time, eventually leaving this viewer as numb to the proceedings as the protagonists. Both characters grow over the course of the story from suicidally afraid to sadly masochistic, and the end, far from tragic, seems almost a tongue-in-cheek message about the things adults perceive are wrong with the youthful. It's not a bad movie, maybe a bit too drawn out for something technically just over an hour long, but certainly an interesting watch. I actually found the soundtrack nicely distracting, being altogether quite poppy and incense-fumed against the overdrama.

Hamp Rates This: 3 Sunflower Seeds

Pistol Opera (2001)

Because I don't want to rave at length about this, I will start by saying the imaginary tea ceremony in this movie rocks. It Rocks So Much Pants. Invisible tea service x sakura petals forever. Okay, so I admit I watched this not because Seijun Suzuki is a kind of director god, but because I think Esumi Makiko in a black kimono and boots is hot. Esumi Makiko is hot anyway, but black kimono and boots have special heating powers all their own. Oh, and there are assassins, because this is supposed to be a high-octane action movie. And crazy hunter x hunter sequences in smoke-filled forests with tragic forbidden love death sequences, mimes, taxi cab musicals, interpretive dance, dismembered limbs, nursery rhymes, handicapped professionals, ghosts and erotic impromptu theatre. All cleverly disguised as ... something. God knows what. But it's really cool. And really long. And after the first two or three assassinations your brains might come sliding out your ears, because it can get slow, really slow, but the point is to stop concentrating on what the plot might be (it's still an assassin trying to climb her way to the top, take or give a few hundred sidepaths), and just letting the story wibble past you like a revolving sushi belt. Such as, just stare at the pretty stuff. Eat only what you think you can eat. Don't eat everything, and everything else, because you'll just feel green inside. And don't. Forget. The tea.

Hamp Rates This: 4 Sunflower Seeds, with a few small bones

Kaze no Tani no Naushika (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, 1984)

I will always be fascinated by Studio Ghibli, and especially Miyazaki Hayao's incredible skill at building these madly detailed fantasy scenes. I actually avoided Nausicaa (and likewise, Mononoke Hime) for the longest time because I wasn't altogether attracted to the stories. Having watched Nausicaa, I'm starting to wonder why I haven't watched Mononoke Hime yet. It's quite perplexing.

Nausicaa is the title character, who has to take over the reigns of her father's small kingdom when he is assassinated during an attack and save the world from itself. The problem with the world here is that humankind has destroyed most of the environment, and then endeavour to destroy the natural underground ecosystem that helps repair what's left of it too. There's a huge risk of this environmental message coming at you with a frozen fish, but it doesn't. For the larger part of the movie, we are shown causes and effects -- the world as it is during the movie is already post-apocalyptic -- and left to make our own decisions. The ending does give put a hard period on what the result should be, but it's an amazing scene all its own. It's quite easy to forgive what's there because it is a great scene. And I'm usually terrified of bugs, so I can't usually imagine a world filled with giant, 100-eyed pill bugs either.

The movie deals with themes quite common to the Miyazaki Hayao (who is indeed a kind of director god) plotline -- hope, strong female characters and an unmistakeable holistic message about existence. Miyazaki-san is a wonder because his stories are so full of humanist, feminist and green values, yet they're never preachy, and even better, told in such a way they could run right past any audience of any age without ever hitting anyone over the head. I admire Nausicaa because she is the mold that makes later characters like Kiki and Sen -- I do believe Miyazaki-san called them the perfect children, but they are really the ideal girl child. None of them are wilting princesses. They may each get hurdles that break their spirit, but they never grovel, and any help they receive, even from nice-looking male characters, is often secondary to the efforts they themselves put in.

Animation-wise, Ghibli is second to none. My only gripe with this film is the soundtrack, which, though certainly pleasing on the orchestrated tracks, has elements of pretty noticeable synthesizers at certain points, which bugged me to no end. It's a personal gripe though, and I do believe I'm in the minority on this one.

Hamp Rates This: 4 Sunflower Seeds

Majo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service, 1989)

This was the movie that made me wish I grew up on Ghibli rather than Disney. I seriously wished I had strong, well-adjusted, holistically sound characters like Kiki to think about rather than the Snow Whites and Auroras and their tragic princess problems. There's just so much I love about this particular film in terms of the main character and the awesome scenery. It is awesome quaint European town lookit-the-windows scenery.

Kiki is a 13-year-old witch who, by witch tradition, has to leave home and establish herself in a new (witchless) town. She lands in Korico, a seaside town, and starts an express delivery service. Kiki, at 13, has more maturity in her head than some 16-year-olds I can think of. She's bright, humble, flawed and brave. I felt that unlike the epic feel of say, Spirited Away, the more personal focus on Kiki in this film helps bring out these characteristics more clearly, and it certainly allows us to quickly establish a rapport with her (rather than fall in love with the white dragon or go rabidly chasing after the pink rat...or something). I can't go on enough about the scenery here, but the music is just as inspired. Really lovely orchestration that brings out the sound of flying, or the feel of the wind. I hear the movie was itself based on children's books of the same title by Kadono Eiko. Perhaps I should look it up.

Hamp Rates This: 5 Sunflower Seeds



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
ah pistol opera is so great! Haha and masatoshi nagase is so random and cool in it :D
Feb. 12th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
I spent most of the tea scene either laughing or admiring the drama. It was *so cool*. But yeah, the death scene after that was so terrible. And sad. Or it would be, if I laughed less. ;)

Y'know, those scary interpretive dancing demons at the end of this movie bear an awful resemblance to that twitchy guy in the Romance PV...
Feb. 12th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC)
i badgered a friend of mine to come watch a free showing of this and the happiness of the katakuris at a museum a few years ago....haha i dont think she ever wanted to go see a movie with me again XD

eeek the guy shaking his junk in acchan's face? haha i think you may be correct

oh yeah and esumi makiko is super sexay *nods*
Feb. 12th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
*laffs* I need to watch the Happiness of the Katakuris. It showed twice on TV out here, but I kept missing it. Pistol Opera is a bit too much of a personal taste film -- definitely not something I can throw around at friends and hope they'll bite. Most people I know already avoid watching movies with me for their own mental health. ;)

And yes, that weird twitchy guy. I will never understand interpretive dance. I certainly didn't understand what the guy was supposed to be saying in the PV. Demonic possession? Madness by forbidden love? Campaign for epilepsy sufferers? Speak to me, Twitchy Man.

Esumi Makiko is stunning. It makes me want to watch more Shomuni/Power Office Girls (where I first saw her). *worships all over the boots and kimono* *and legs*
Feb. 12th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
that has got to be one of my favorite miike movies...well i mean one of my non-violent favorites, like bird people of china XD

yeah...pistol opera is definitely not for everyone; my friend was all "um what?" at me after it was over, and well i couldnt really make any excuses

im going to go for grad mal seizure as a representation of forbidden love....its just so goth and lovely

unfortunately i have yet to see Power Office Girls, so Pistol Opera is my only experience with the glory that is esumi makiko...
Feb. 12th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
Ooooo! Power Office Girls rocks. It's a comedy about OL stereoptypes, and sort of throws the concept on its head -- Esumi Makiko plays the ringleader of her OL crew, and she spends every other episode either choke-slamming or breaking some boss's arm because he tried to molest her. It's very cool. She also sings on the ED ("One Way Drive"), in this music video with her in knee-high boots and miniskirt.: http://jdorama.com/drama.380.htm.

Unfortunately, the only two Miike movies I've ever seen are Fudoh and Audition. The latter scared the bejeezus out of me, and made a friend later comment that I'd make a good scary quiet psychotic rich-man poaching girl. So I have some watching to do too. ;)

I keep wanting to rip out just the PO tea scene and try to pimp that at friends instead. It's subtle enough to be not "What was that?" and more...er...art movie scene.

I need to watch the Romance PV again. *ponders*
Feb. 13th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
heh that Power Office Girls thing sounds fabulous...

ah ive seen quite a few of miike's movies; hes just so over the top and insane its quite shibbby...but then he can come out with down right fuzzy stuff like bird people of china, which is a fantastically lyrical film

i havent watched romance in quite a while myself; but ive been feeling the need to see old school BT or late...
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )