Modern Pulp Mar 29 2015
BEASTLY BEHAVIOR
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Tatsumi Kumashiro’s roman porno flick Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi was called Path of the Beast for its Western release, but the literal translation of the Japanese title is something like “Girl Whore Beast Road.” That sounds ridiculous, but it does sum up the plot. Yoshimura Ayako stars as a sex-loving twenty-something who has two horny lovers and thinks of herself as a whore because she can’t say no to either of them. She believes she inherited the trait from her equally sexual mother, and vows not to go down the same road of carnality. You see? Girl Whore Beast Road. Ayako’s assessment of herself may seem a little harsh—after all, if she loves to bone, what’s the problem? Well, reputational issues, obviously, as well as possessiveness issues on the part of her men—and those don't often end happily. But at least Ayako has ample fun in the midst of her anguish. She has sex on the beach, sex on a boat, sex in a shack, sex under the ruined pier, and even sex in a bed. It’s all softcore, of course—if you’ve never seen a roman porno movie, the sex scenes usually look like two people trying hold a water balloon between their torsos, and Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi holds to that tradition with plenty of writhing and wiggling. At some point Ayako learns to accept herself, if not her circumstances, and that’s really what the movie is about. Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi premiered in Japan today in 1980. 

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Intl. Notebook Sep 24 2013
PLANET CARAVAN
Japan invades the Basque Country.

This week the ever-growing San Sebastian Film Festival in the Basque Country of Spain kicked off with the usual round of premieres at the city’s Kursaal and celeb walks along the seafront on Zurriola Beach. But in the city’s old quarter in a plaza tucked between an old church, some residential buildings, and a wooded hill, a group of Japanese deejays, musicians, foodies and cinephiles launched a weeklong festival-within-a-festival they’re calling Cinema Caravan. Last night the bill included a classic Nikkatsu roman porno, the 1973 Tatsumi Kumashiro comedy Yojôhan fusuma no urabari, aka The World of Geisha, starring Junko Miyashita. The film was projected outdoors while a Bedouin-style tent served as a bar/club, and two Japanese bodegas dished up soba noodles and fish. Before and after the movie the Japanese singer Naoito played beautifully, and the rest of the time world-class deejays spun tunes. All this in a plaza redecorated to resemble to a Japanese garden.
 
The San Sebastian Film Festival is a worthy event, and this year’s version has stars like Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall, but it’s also expensive and chic and probably off-putting to some. Cinema Caravan, by contrast, is intimate and inclusive and everyone can feel a bit important. The event’s website says it best: Unfurling a screen for outdoor viewing in the different landscapes of our journey, we set the stage of non-routine experience in an everyday place. And in the process, we learn from those we meet on the road, their wisdom on how to live, and experience their varied cultures. Pulp Intl. is here all week, and if you’re in this part of the world (interestingly, our analytics tell us Spain is Pulp Intl.’s fifth most popular country) then consider stopping by. The festival runs through Saturday night with more movies, food, deejays, live music, dance, and fun. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 3 2012
FRONT ROW CENTER
Hold me closer tiny dancer.

Above, a poster for Tatsumi Kumashiro’s 1968 sexploitation flick Kaburitsuki jinsei, aka Front Row Life, aka Life of a Striptease Love, et al. This was Kumashiro’s first directorial effort, and it didn’t do well. Afterward, he was banished back to screenwriting and assistant directing, which is where he’d been toiling for years, but in 1972, when he was forty-five, Nikkatsu gave him a second chance and he helmed the hit roman porno Nureta kuchibiru, aka Wet Lips. Kumashiro went on to direct many successful Nikkatsu productions. Interestingly, he married his Front Row Life leading lady, Hatsue Tonooka, but they divorced after a few months. 


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Modern Pulp Feb 17 2011
HAIR CLUB FOR MEN
What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Above is a poster for Tatsumi Kumashiro’s pinku Akai kami no onna, aka Woman with Red Hair, starring Junko Miyashita and Renji Ishabashi. How to explain this one? Well, it’s a sexual melodrama about a man and woman who embark on an obsessive affair, with a subplot about a gang raped girl who develops an attachment to one of her attackers. It’s supposed to be a commentary on misogyny and abuse, but despite the noble intent, beautiful cinematography and rain-drenched atmosphere, it didn’t do much for us. However, Miyashita won awards for her performance, and the film was well-received when released, so we’re willing to concede that it’s a piece of art that is firmly of its time (i.e., before our time) and can perhaps only be understood in that temporal and cultural context. As to the latter, we checked out some reviews and a theme that ran through them was that this is a film so Japanese in nature that it doesn’t translate well for westerners. So you know what we did? We watched it again without subtitles. Since it’s only seventy-three minutes long, we weren’t sacrificing a lot of time. And guess what happened? We understood and liked it a lot better. So take that for what it's worth. And while you’re at it, take the lovely Junko Miyashita promo poster below. It's another rare find of ours, never before seen online. Akai kami no onna premiered in Japan today in 1979. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 15
1978—Hussein Marries Halaby
King Hussein of Jordan, who had claimed direct lineage from the Prophet Muhammad and the most ancient tribe in the Arab world, marries American Lisa Halaby, who renounces her American citizenship, converts to Islam, and takes the name Queen Noor. Noor soon becomes one of the most glamorous and recognized royals in the world.
June 14
1995—Roger Zelazny Dies
American fantasy and science fiction writer Roger Zelazny dies at age fifty-eight of kidney failure related to colo-rectal cancer. Zelazny won the Nebula award three times, and the Hugo award six times, for novels such as ...And Call Me Conrad and Lord of Light, but was best known for his fantasy serial The Chronicles of Amber.
June 13
1971—First of the Pentagon Papers Are Published
The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Department of Defense history of the country's political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers reveal that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, and that four presidential administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had deliberately misled the public regarding their intentions toward Vietnam.
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