Teruo Ishii Retrospective: Part 3/3
Finally, the program Chirashi
I only had a change to catch 8 films this time. That was alright since this was the 3rd Ishii event I've attended in 3 or 4 years (following Cinema Vera's Ishii retrospective and Shin bungeiza's Ishii all night). A few brief comments:
History of the Shogun’s Harem (1968)
screened from an absolutely amazing 35mm print. It’s one of those movies that have to be experienced in 35mm in an old school theatre… not just for the film, which is a bit slow but sells an image of an almost otherworldly place via beautiful sets, seductive camera work and atmospheric score, but also to get a sense of what people must have been feeling when they first saw it back in ’68. I believe it was the first pink film produced by a major studio with lavish production values. Critics were offended, feminists enraged, and audiences flocked to see it.
The Nikkatsu film Rising Dragon’s Iron Flesh (1969)
was better than I expected. A starring vehicle for singer Hiroko Ogi and bit of routine production, Ishii stills injects it with his own brand of the perverse: there’s an unexpected 30 min WiP segment with gratuitous bathing scene, a fight where Hideki Takahashi's sword causes someone's face to explode (!), and a cool final massacre where the heroes are repeatedly aligning their tattoos into one big dragon in the midst of the action. Not really a great movie, but has enough great scenes to warrant a viewing.
From the Shintoho films King of the Ring (1957)
was alright, an entertaining if not very convincing boxing drama with already a number of Ishii trademarks visible: a night club scene with a scarcely clothed go-go dancer, a femme fatale who seduces the hero (a side plot that hasn't aged very well gender politically) and frantic boxing scenes. Queen Bee and the School for Dragons (1960)
on the other hand was a thoroughly entertaining street fighting actioner with Yoko Mihara leading a gang of of scarcely clothed, arse kicking prostitutes/townswomens whose tops are constantly about to fall off... unfortunately the time was not yet ripe for full-on pinky violence, hence we get a bit too much plot focus on daddy Kanjuro Arashi's gang struggles and young hero Teruo Yoshida.
I also ended up seeing Love and Crime (1969)
... again. I was on my way to see Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge (1963)
in Jimbocho when I got another reminder why I hate Shinjuku Station... all four of them! I went to the fucking wrong one! That was because I needed to ride the Shinjuku Line, and there are two of those, too! Then when I finally got to Jimbocho station, with only 3 minutes left till the film, I took the wrong exit in a hurry and ended up on the side of the district that I didn't recognize and was lost. Then changed my plan and headed back to Laputa as fast as I could, got to the theatre about 2 min late, fell in the dark when I was trying to find a seat, and finally managed to sit my butt down when the opening credits were playing. It's the first time I have ever been late from a movie, and I felt embarrassed to enter / disturb others when the film had already started.