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December 26th, 2005

Thanks, Santa, ya bum...

Despite one unwelcome gift (Ricky and I both awoke on Christmas morning sick), Christmas was lovely this year, with an emphasis on DVDs.

The first one up for viewing was the notorious 1973 Japanese release Sex and Fury. In case you don't know about this one and are wondering what makes it so notorious, here are a few of my favorite scenes:

- Our heroine is beset by a gang of swordsmen while bathing, and she successfully fights them all off BUCK NAKED. In the snow, yet.

- An assassination attempt on a train is foiled by a gang of switchblade-wielding Catholic nuns.

- A woman dressed in a fringed buckskin miniskirt whips a tattooed woman before a giant stylized painting of Christ.

- A bloodied swordswoman staggers down a snowy road, which becomes a field of playing cards.

Despite some problems with pacing (especially an overemphasis on sex scenes), this one lived up to the hype. It wasn't just authentically nuts, it was also beautifully directed (by Norifumi Suzuki), and desperately makes me want to see more of this line of "Pinky Violence" films. It also makes me even more acutely aware of just how sad the Kill Bill films really were; they seemed alternately jokey and grim, and never came even close to capturing the fun, demented spirit of the real thing.

It's always strange to me to see older Japanese films, whether it's Kurosawa or Kinji Fukasaku or Norifumi Suzuki, and see how fluid the camerawork was...so where does this modern Japanese aesthetic of the locked-down, static camera come from? It's especially prevalent in modern Japanese horror cinema, and is one of the reasons I'm not as big a fan of "J-horror" as many others are. Ricky suggested that preference for the non-moving camera may come from Ozu; I've also wondered if it's an over-reaction to the frequent use of the zoom lens which plagued virtually all Asian cinema in the 70s. Oh well, Japan is still home to one of the world's great modern horror filmmakers (Hideo Nakata), so I can't complain too much.

Here's to more pinky violence in 2006!

OMG

Del just sent me the Science Fiction Book Club description of the Dark Delicacies anthology, which includes this bullet point:

"a shell hunter who meets terror at the tide pools"

"Terror at the Tide Pools"...I think I've got the title of the feature film version of "Black Mill Cove"...