“As I type these words, sitting in the press office of the Rotterdam Film Festival (with one Grolsch, nine cigarettes, two glasses of red wine, and too many days of too many screenings blurring my vision), 17 Dutch kids between the ages of four and 12 are leaping around on a parquet three floors below me, egged on by a throbbing techno beat. The rumpled Austrian reviewer at the desk next to mine recoils and says, “That is disgusting”-
this from a man who two days ago screened a Japanese pink eigu (pink porno) movie in the fest’s “Critics’ Choice” sidebar. One of the girls below me wears a headband with tiger ears attached-the same gear, believe it or not, that a thug in last night’s movie had worn before tracking down a murderer by sniffing the crotch of one of the killer’s rape victims.”
Edward E. Crouse: Sexual Perversity in Rotterdam.
“Pink porno” is not quite adequate as translation of “pinku eiga”, but who cares when “Tokyo X Erotica”, “a virtuoso sex fest by the virtually unknown director Zeze Takahisa” (Crouse) is in town?
”...a cavalcade of pivotal couplings and triplings that eventually coalesce into a meditation on time, religion, and politics. As a response to the terrorist attacks that killed nearly a hundred people in Tokyo subways a few years ago, Takahisa’s film-
which follows a path to spiritual regeneration paved with erotic spasms and kindly ejaculate-is at once flagrantly allegorical and startlingly frank.
“Tokyo X Erotica” will be shown tomorrow, 21-04-2003, 20:15, at the 3001 cinema in Hamburg.
“This film gets coming and coming – just like its madly, wonderfully shamelessly fucking and charmingly flexible protagonists. Although the fucking is so nice that it should be reason enough to enjoy the film, the film’s true brillance lies in the ease with which Zeze builds layer upon layer, developing a piercing vision of the Heisei period, its politics/catastrophes/state-of-mind, which he then goes on to transcend into a Zeze-typical meditation about rebirth, God, the essence of the human soul, but with a surprisingly ironic touch. “
Olaf Möller, writing for Die Welt, translated into English and published on the website of the Rotterdam film festival.
After tomorrow’s screening, the director Zeze Takahisa will have a public chat with Roland Domenig.
Domenig put together last year’s special on “pinku eiga” at the Udine film festival, Italy. Here’s the accompanying text, very informative: Vital flesh: the mysterious world of Pink Eiga.
Less favourable The Japanese Pink Film, Andrew Grossman reviews three DVD releases including one Zeze film (“The Dream of Garuda”) for the Bright Lights Film Journal.
ZeZe Takahisa at Catatonia People.
At 22:30, Zeze’s film “Raigyo” will be shown in same cinema. Zeze’s “No Man’s Land” is on the next day; “Raigyo” and “Tokyo X Erotica” will also be shown again. (See here for details).
"Die Welt" schreibt über japanische Pornos? Wenn das Axel Cäsar wüsste!
gHack (Apr 21, 11:01) #
Tokyo X Erotica, on the other hand, offers no such human perspective. Instead, we're given a series of episodes featuring much bonking followed by death, and I can't say I really gave a toss about a single character. In fact, life would have been a trifle more pleasant if they'd all died in the first five minutes so we could have left early.
I must rant here just a tad, so be prepared. Where Russell Hoban, in his superb novel Pilgermann, gave us the grotesque Bruder Pfortner (sorry, no umlauts), he gave us a personification of death that revealed the inevitable indignity. This character was used as a counterpoint to the human interactions in the story, resulting in a view of human life that was both sublime and tragic, and undeniably moving. Tokyo X Erotica director Zeze Takahisa strips away the meaning and leaves the grotesquerie, giving us Death in a bunny suit. Annoying pretensions to significance combined with a salacious but entirely unerotic sex made this film a fine companion piece to Shanghai Panic.
Sure, rant away. There isn't really a point in responding to a rant, content-wise, but anyway.
I can see why one would find this film's treatment of death and dying, of life and other large concepts expressed in four-letter-words, disappointing, annoying, shallow.
But it seems to me that such disappointment and anger partly derive from an expectation directed at such films that I'd find overly narrow - a looming dark metaphysics of seriousness, perhaps.
I did find meaning in the film, though it was a matter of small gestures and casually strewn in images rather than one of a consistent and constantly recognisable tone of humanity.
The film did border on the verbose pretensiousness of bad music videos, to be sure, and occasionally stepped over it rather clumsily. Not the best film I've ever seen (as far as Zeze's films go: Raigyo is much better), but I wouldn't necessarily find fault in it for the reasons you suggested.
But perhaps I'm just biased because the sex in the film did somehow manage to turn me on, as unerotic as it may have been.
Death often does wear bunny suits, by the way.
katatonik (Apr 22, 22:44) #
katatonik (Apr 22, 23:01) #
I've only just found your "reply" to a comment in my 2002 HKIFF report, which is a tad disconcerting, as I hadn't meant it as a dialogue.
Be that as it may, I'd have to say that, while I'm not averse to death in a bunny suit, the sex in the film really didn't turn me on at all. Don't know why, but it just seemed too strident, perhaps. There were a number of other films at that and this year's fests that made a much stronger impression.
I haven't seen many of the director's other films, and perhaps that might have given me a better opinion. I just thought it tried to do too much and achieved too little.