A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Pornographers (Shohei Imamura, 1966)

Sumiko Sakamoto and Shoichi Ozawa in The Pornographers
Subuyan Ogata: Shoichi Ozawa
Haru Matsuda: Sumiko Sakamoto
Keiko Matsuda: Keiko Sagawa
Banteki: Haruo Tanaka
Elderly Client: Ganjiro Nakamura
Koichi Matsuda: Masaomi Kondo
Shinun Ogata: Ichiro Sugai
Doctor: Kazuo Kitamura

Director: Shohei Imamura
Screenplay: Shohei Imamura, Koji Numata
Based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka
Cinematography: Shinsaku Himeda
Art direction: Hiromi Shiozawa, Ichiro Takada
Film editing: Mutsuo Tanji
Music: Toshiro Kusunoki, Toshiro Mayuzumi

Fascinating. confusing, sometimes funny, and sometimes just a little repellent. Must be a Shohei Imamura film. I don't shock easily, but Imamura always keeps me on the edge of being shocked, mostly because I don't know how far he'll go next. In The Pornographers, we're dealing not only with the title subject but also with incest and prostitution and even abuse of the mentally challenged, while desperately trying to sort out the very confused life of Subuyan Ogata. He is one of the pornographers of the title, and he lives with a widow, Haru, who thinks her dead husband has been reincarnated as the carp she keeps in a very confining fish tank. She has two nearly grown children: Toichi, who seems uncommonly attached to his mother, and Keiko, a rebel without a cause. Ogata is obsessed with Keiko, whom he has known since she was a little girl. Nothing good is going to come out of his relationship with the Matsuda family, of course, especially after Haru gets pregnant and goes insane. But figuring out the ins and outs of the film's plot, and even whether what we're watching is flashback or dream or fantasy is part of the essence of its fascination -- and its repellent quality. Imamura isn't quite like any filmmaker I know of.

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