At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
July is “The Month of Body Rental” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, July 4: Platonic Sex / Puratonikku sekusu / プラトニック・セックス(2001) by Masako Matsûra– 104 mins – Japan, Drama.
DVDactive: The film starts atop a tall building where seventeen-year-old Aoi, on her birthday, after being gang-raped and subsequently rejected by her parents, decides to end her life. She reaches out into the wind to let go and jump, only to be brought back to reality one last time when a text message appears on her phone. Although seemingly sent to a wrong number, the message gives her hope and she decides to live. Soon she falls into the world of prostitution and eventually, the adult video industry, where she makes a name for herself as the hottest young newcomer, going under the name of Ai.
Based on the international best-selling biography by Ai Iijima, Platonic Sex is the story of one girl’s harrowing fight to live. It captures both the sense of her desperation and the feeling of her being desensitized to the world after all of the horrors that it throws at her, charting her fall to rock bottom and seeming rise to fame. By the time she realizes that her ascent in the adult video industry is actually more of a descent from the rock bottom that she thought she had hit before, it is too late. Amidst all this she thinks that she finds love with an apparent stranger but only finds her complicated life to be a horrible place for a relationship.
The story was intriguing and captivating – the interest rests in the performance of the lead, Saki Kagami, who does a brilliant job at capturing the essence of this desperate, lonely soul. With a cute-ness that lies on the cusp of being beautiful, she draws your attention and carries you through the narrative, allowing you to see the emotion and lack thereafter of this young innocent who does not remain so. Joe Odagiri does a good job as the love interest, a barman at a club that she frequents, who also happens to be her guardian angel.
Overall, and although watching it seldom gives you a good feeling inside, the movie is well worth your time. Consistently depressing—even the romance is tainted by the state her life is in, you can clearly see how the material is largely non-fictional. Right from the start it is difficult to see the central protagonist as anything other than a victim and although that makes it hard to appreciate her as a sex star, it does show you just how real this drama feels. The female director Masako Matsurra has a keen eye for showing the horror in the subject—never allowing the movie to become a sexy, voyeuristic affair. Platonic Sex may not be a pleasant watch, but it is a compelling one.
Eigapedia: When Aoi is gang-raped by her classmates and kicked out of her home by her own parents she sees no reason to continue living. Before she commits suicide, however, she receives an email on her cellphone from a man named Toshi addressed to a girl named Ai. The message simply thanks the girl for being alive, but this specific message has an effect on Aoi and she decides to keep on living. Without many options, Aoi resorts to everything from paid dating to porn to earn money and meets a lot of less than reputable characters. Throughout it all though she looks toward Toshi as her hope for happiness and the two form a relationship.
This film is rated IIB in Hong Kong, meaning: "Adult Material; Parental Guidance Recommended – Not Suitable for Young Persons and Children." This is roughly equal to an MPPA rating of "R" in the US. Films rated Category IIB contain large amounts of violence and/or nudity and sexual situations, in addition to possible explicit language and adult situations.
Available on DVD from HKFlix.
At Film Space Saturday, July 11: Boogie Nights (1997) by Paul Thomas Anderson– 155 mins – US, Drama.
Rated R in the US for strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language, and violence. It was originally rated NC-17 – 40 seconds of film were cut to reduce it to an R. The 40 seconds are included in a widely distributed pirated copy of a work print. The pirated work includes many scenes not in the movie or the DVD deleted scenes — some are very explicit. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 85/84 out of 100.
ReelViews: There was a time during the long history of the adult entertainment industry that porn films showed signs of artistic ambition. During the late '70s, a small cadre of directors believed that they could combine the raunch of real sex with an involving plot. It was a lofty goal, and one that ultimately proved impossible to realize, especially with the advent of video forcing movies to be made cheaper and faster. In his new film, Boogie Nights, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson takes us back to the disco era, and, by following a small group of characters, recreates the rise and fall of "artistic porn" and those who participated in it.
The really burning question about this film always has been: Was that really Mark Wahlberg's penis? The definitive answer (as promised last week) is: No! This is the infamous fake penis used in the final shot of the film. It was made from an easily biodegradable rubber and foam combination which Wahlberg kept as a souvenir from the film, and which, he says, has since begun to deteriorate.
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, July 18: Birdcage Inn / Blue Gate / Paran daemun(1998) by Ki-duk Kim– 105 mins – South Korea, Drama.
Streetwise Jin-a moves into a boarding house run by a small, close-knit family. But her unacceptable behavior threatens to destroy them all.
IMDb viewer: One of Kim Ki-duk's earlier, lesser-seen films, Birdcage Inn portrays the hard times of a young Korean prostitute and the family that makes money off her in a Korean coastal city. As with all Kim's films, the plot is pretty ludicrous, but this one lacks much of the sensationalistic depravity that makes most of his films conversation pieces. Kim's really attracted to prostitutes and the business of prostitution - as, it seems, are many of his heroines (one character's transition at the end of the film foreshadows a similar character's change of heart in Kim's recent Samaria). He also seems to have a love/hate feeling towards women. His girls may be whores but they have good hearts, and even though they may be smacked around repeatedly they persevere.
Available on DVD from HKFlix.