|Vintage Pulp||Feb 10 2019|
The shot heard 'round Japan.
This unusual poster was made to promote a film called Teppôdama no bigaku, known in English by the cool title Aesthetics of a Bullet. The movie came from Art Theatre Guild, or ATG, producers of films in the loose category known as Japanese New Wave, meaning to take a new approach to filmmaking by rejecting traditional ideas and techniques. This one was directed by Sadao Nakajima and stars Tsunehiko Watase as a hot-headed two-bit hustler named Kiyoshi who tries numerous schemes to get ahead, including being a chef, gambling, and breeding rabbits. He fails at all of them, and he's desperate for a break.
When he's given a job by a local yakuza cartel known as Tenyu Group, he quickly learns about the power of a gun. With it he can command others, make them fear and respect him, make them literally kneel. With this gun his sense of self worth is first restored, then inflated. He caresses it, brandishes it, polishes it, treats it better than even the women he lusts for, and the gun confirms that he's superior to others. And once he feels superior he becomes—not to put too fine a point on it—a total asshole. He's actually an abusive chump even before the gun, but the weapon fully unleashes his destructive, hyper-masculine impulses.
The things he does are too ridiculously stupid to get into. Suffice it to say that even for a regular guy these would lead to trouble, but he's Tenyu Group's thug-at-large, which means his erratic behavior and explosive anger offends the other crime bosses. Pretty soon he discovers that he's torn a dangerous rift in the yakuza network. But what Kiyoshi doesn't know—which the audience does from the beginning—is that Tenyu Group hired him in the first place precisely because he's a disruptive fuck-up. Their theory was always that he would spark a gang war. All he has to do is fire that beloved gun once and Tenyu Group will have the excuse it needs.
Aesthetics of a Bullet is obscure, so we knew nothing about it, but we liked it. It's concise, has a strong point of view, and a good supporting cast that includes Miki Sugimoto and Mitsuru Mori. Its only flaw—perhaps unavoidable—is that the lead character is such a misanthropic troublemaker that we could barely tolerate watching him. But we guess that's where the whole rejecting traditional filmmaking comes in. Who needs a likeable or even sympathetic lead? Real life is more complicated than that, and Kiyoshi's fictional life gets plenty complicated too. Even if you can't root for him, at least he won't bore you, and neither will the movie. Aesthetics of a Bullet premiered in Japan today in 1973.
JapanArt Theatre GuildTeppôdama no bigaku鉄砲玉の美学Aesthetics of a BulletTsunehiko WataseMiki SugimotoMitsuru MoriSadao Nakajimaposter artcinemayakuzamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 30 2016|
When two incendiary personalities meet the result is bound to be explosive.
The rare poster above was made to promote the Japanese pinku thriller Asu naki furaiha, aka Jeans Blues: No Future, and it's the only panel-length promo for the movie we've ever seen. Meiko Kaji plays Seiko, who robs the bar where she works. Tsunehiko Watase plays Jiro, who rips off the Yakuza. They crash their stolen getaway cars into each other and from that accidental meeting a partnership is formed and the two scam and rob their way across the countryside like Bonnie and Clyde.
Jiro is a bit more serious of a criminal than Seiko, and is in more severe trouble, but Seiko is loyal to a fault now that she's found a kindred spirit. She refuses to leave Jiro even though the Yakuza are destined to turn up—in Japanese movies you can't realistically hope to shake those guys. But even if doom is the final destination there's fun on the road to ruin—speed, adventure, laughs, a little barnyard nookie, and regularly spaced cop murders. Plus you get Kaji and with her you can't lose, even if she does. Watching this was time well spent. Asu naki furaiha premiered in Japan today in 1974.
JapanToei CompanyAsu naki furaihaJeans Blues: No FutureMeiko KajiTsunehiko Wataseposter artcinemapinkupinky violencemovie review