Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I’ve done two big Tokyo trips in the last three months, and married an incredible Japanese beauty between those, so I haven’t had much time to post.
June - Part 1/2
I had been eying a June Tokyo visit ever since Laputa Asagaya announced an impossible-to-see-at-home Sonny Chiba screening (more about that in a moment), with the “50 Director’s Debut Films” program still running at the same venue as well as a Pink Film 6th Anniversary Program. Then when Shin bungeiza dropped the bomb - they’d be doing a Shintaro Katsu mini retro at the same time – it was decided in a split second. Flights, capsule, films, here I come.
The primary reason for the trip was Love School (1962)
, a charming little love comedy playing in Laputa’s Morning Show
in the Mayumi Ozora program
. In the film best friends Yoshiko Sakuma and Mayumi Ozora go boy hunting (looking for dates) with the former at one point finding herself harassed by an old geezer. To rescue comes young man Sonny Chiba, driving a vintage vehicle that looks like a slightly upgraded version of T-Ford. This is quite a progressive youth film for Toei, from trendy English title (spelled Renai gakko in kanji, but Love School is the intended furigana reading) to a charmingly modern heroine, and an underlying message 'follow your heart, not your family'. For Chiba fans these romantic films predating his tough mofo reputation by a decade are a most pleasant discovery. Fantastic print too!
Love School (alternative poster)
Love School wasn’t the only thing to see in Laputa. I ended up with quite a pink streak watching Virgin Breaker Yuki (50 Debuts program), Angel Guts: Red Vertigo (50 Debuts program) and Bondage Tattoo on Wet Skin (Pink Film 60th Anniversary series) in a row. Virgin Breaker Yuki
was better than I recalled, a mean little film that also contains the kind of visual poetry that only a 35mm screening does full justice. Great Takuzo Kawatani turn as angry castrated hobo and yes, Masumi Jun’s breasts are a sight to behold.
about as good as I recalled – a near excellent psychological erotic drama with Takashi Ishii’s instantly recognizable visual neo-noir flair. The screening was affected by unintended melancholy as Ishii had passed away just a few weeks earlier. Oh and just for the record, while the print was a little scratched, I think the blue push in the colour front was intentional.
Last and absolutely least was Bondage Tattoo on Wet Skin
. I felt obliged to watch this Mamoru Watanabe Shintoho S&M film just because it was screening in 35mm (*). A soldier (Shiro Shimomoto) comes home from war, only to find his sweetheart (Mai Hana) missing. She's actually in the attic, tied up on ropes and tattooed from ankles to neck, under intensive yakuza care. What's curious is that she's fully engaged in self-torture, tying herself up and even pulling herself up in the air on ropes by herself when there's no one to whip her. It's slightly spectacular to look at and supposedly adds a psychological layer to the sleaze. Meanwhile he proceeds to bang other women... a lot. That’s it. Watching this back to back with Toei's Virgin Breaker Yuki and Nikkatsu's Red Vertigo, and it's painfully evident how much lower the production values and filmmaking quality are here.
* With most pink theatres having gone tits up, and the few remaining ones gone fully digital, Shintoho pinks have become nearly impossible to see in 35mm outside of Laputa's retrospectives.
I also grabbed a few photos inside the screening room.
And outside. Lobby is on the right, screening room up the wooden stairs in the 2nd floor