#191 – Zūmurenzu: Kameraman Bōkō (Zoom Lens: Photographer Assault)

(1974, Jap, 61 min) Dir Kan Tan. Cast Mitsuo Ibaraki.

In the early Seventies the studios got involved in the formerly independent pinku eiga genre and the films got slicker. As ever Kan Tan was waiting and Zoom Lens saw him attempting to kick-start his own series following the success of the likes of the Apartment Wife series. The idea is simple – Ibaraki (the De Niro to Tan’s Scorsese) is a camera wielding pervert who roams Tokyo hunting for women to photograph. Sick of continuously being thwarted in his lusts he takes to forcing himself on women and photographing the results. More than that, this is a comedy. A curious, queasy mix of sexual assault and slapstick that seems more bizarre and less palatable than Tan’s previous work due to the increased budget on display with its attendant glossy photography and high production values. The series was a modest hit and a further thirteen installments were produced before the series was put out to pasture.

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#190 – Apāto Retsujō (Apartment Lust)

(1967, Jap, 57 min) Dir Kan Tan. Cast Mitsuo Ibaraki, Anna Shimura, Haruo Tanaka.

From the beginning of the pinku eiga era Kan Tan was there with his camera. 1967 represented the peak of his productivity with a staggering twelve films produced that year and Apartment Lust was the most popular of the dozen, at least partly because of the brief controversy it’s release caused. The story’s as old as the hills – young Kaneda is failing in school because of an unrequited love for a girl in his class so his parents track down and kidnap the object of his affections so that he may tie her to his bed and beat and whip her. Eventually she escapes and gets her bloody revenge on the whole family. I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this just the same plot as Kōji Wakamatsu’s The Embryo Hunts in Secret? Why yes, it is, but with the addition of the parent characters and the subtraction of Embryo‘s formal trickery. It would appear that, upon spying the controversy that greeted the release of Wakamatsu’s film, Tan guessed that the introduction of the parents as the torturer’s enablers would up the shock quotient and the removal of the nouvelle vague elements would please the more mainstream punters. He was right too. Artless and grubby stuff all in all.

#189 – Puta Enojada (Angry Bitch)

(1993, Mex, 88 min) Dir Antxón Arango. Cast Sally del Toro, Hector Mendez, Gabriel Quinn.

An Almodóvarian comedy drama. Sally del Toro is Lucia, a downtrodden housewife who dreams of her youth before she married her boorish husband Windsor (Hector Mendez, his huge moustache still present) while she maintains their spotless household. One evening, while Lucia is ironing his shirt for work, Windsor announces that he is leaving her – now that their children have moved out, he says, there is no need for him to continue to live the lie. There is someone else and has been for some time. Lucia, in a fit of fury twenty years in the making, beats Windsor to death with her iron and thus the film comes over all Ms. 45 with Lucia taking to the street with her Windsor’s revolver on a misandrist rampage. How many men will fall to her bullets before the night is out? Will Gabriel Quinn’s dashing detective Alejandro stop her? What will her brat children think? Accusations of chauvanism are steadily avoided with a film very much on Lucia’s side, cheering as she guns down the worst examples of masculinity she can find. Good fun for those with a darker sense of humour.

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#188 – Current Affairs

(1986, US, 114 min) Dir Andy Farmer. Cast Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Plummer, Daryl Hannah, Bebe Neuwirth, Dudley Moore

High-pitched farce set in a TV newsroom. The poster, featuring a shrugging Dan Aykroyd with his trousers around his ankles, says everything you need to know about Current Affairs – the satirical potential of the rolling news story of the American intervention into a proxy war in an unnamed Middle Eastern country is lost amidst the film’s focus on the comedic potential of who’s boinking who, where they’re doing it and who’s nearly caught them at it. A roll call will suffice in place of a plot: Aykroyd at his most jabber-mouthed is Sal Danners, the coked-up show runner; Christopher Plummer is Peter Christmas, venerable anchor and voice of steadfast morality; unbeknownst to all he and his co-anchor Felicity Day (Neuwirth) have just ended a clandestine relationship, the rancour of their split simmering on air; Daryl Hannah is Mimsy Butler, the intern that everyone is chasing; Christopher Lloyd is Hal, the narcoleptic cameraman and Dudley Moore is Reginald Blueford, their British correspondent in the Middle East getting into hotter and hotter water as the film goes on. Directed in a slapdash manner by the King of Falling Upwards Andy Farmer, who either throws one hell of a party or has a detailed map of where the bodies are.

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#187 – Škubnutí (Twitch, The)

(1966, Czech, 65 min) Dir Jan Klos. Cast Josef Reinstein, Vratislav Kutálek, Frantisek Cermák.

Karel had everything he could have wanted from life – a loving wife, two adoring daughters, a good job, a nice apartment and a fridge full of food. That is until he wakes up one day with a facial twitch that causes him to spontaneously wink and now everyone thinks that Karel is up to something and not one person trusts him. His wife is now convinced that he’s having an affair, his boss suspects he has been cooking the books and the police don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. By the end of the film poor Karel’s living in a squalid shed with a three-legged dog and nothing but turnips to eat, the whole of his life’s achievements having evaporated on account of his twitch. An absurd classic of black comedy, The Twitch found itself banned for thirty years in the country of it’s production for no given reason.

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#186 – Giungla Che Derise, La (Laughing Jungle, The)

(1981, It, 101 min) Dir Marco Pastrami. Cast Robert Yorke, Gabriel Ciardi, Francesca Pirkanen, Perry Giorgio.

Poor Marco Pastrami – a more gentle-hearted would-be exploitation filmmaker you would be hard pressed to find. A dedicated leech on the hide of success, he followed Il Pugile (The Boxer, his Rocky knock off) with The Laughing Jungle, his own entry to the burgeoning cannibal film genre. Unfortunately for him while Ruggero Deodato, for example, had the imagination to come up with all kind of graphic horrors to depict and the constitution to walk into a jungle and start slaughtering animals for the camera too, Pastrami couldn’t even bring himself to look at Francesca Pirkanen’s breasts during the filming of the obligatory nudity, apparently directing the action with a pillowcase over his head. So what we have instead is a film where the violence is accompanied with all the realism of actual tomato ketchup, jungles which look as much like the Amazon as you can find in northern Italy and Amazonian tribespeople who are really just short actors in fake tan and bowl haircuts. So tame a film that it was only in the cannibal genre to survive the UK government’s ‘Video Nasty’ witchhunt.

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#185 – Flex/Flesh

(1967, Wger, 14 min) Dir Nickolaus Müller.

Narrativeless German bodybuilding doc. Emboldened by a screening of Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, reclusive law student Müller scratched up whatever money he could and shot this, his debut short, ultimately setting himself onthe road from reclusive law student to the flamboyant experimental filmmaker that shot across film history like a shooting star. But that was all in the future – what promise does this scant fourteen minutes show? Well, the first thing that jumps out at the viewer is the acknowledged debt to the Anger film in form though without Scorpio Rising‘s challenging iconography. In saying that the fact that the film is stripped down to just muscular men pumping iron works in the film’s favour as it becomes less about culture and subculture and more about the human body, both in the how of it’s sculpting and in reverence to it. Also evident is his skill in both filming and editing, how he has captured small but telling moments that he has integrated slyly into the finished product – I’m thinking here of the old man watching from a window as he passes, a snatched glimpse preserved in the film where it sits as a mystery of desire emblematic of the director’s own position. For completists only for sure but still rich in pleasures of it’s own.

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