Thursday, July 10, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Love – Zero = Infinity


As well as a very odd title this Japanese offering from Hisayasu Sato, produced in 1994, is what they call a pinku eiga film – a style synonymous with softcore adult offerings. In truth the ethos of the pinku eiga seems somewhere between the sexploitation flick and the dogme film.

There are four general filmmaking rules. The film must have a minimum quota of sex scenes. The film must be approximately 60 minutes long. It has to be shot on 16 mm or 35 mm film in a week. It must be of limited budget. In this case it also has a vampire… sort of.

Trying to uncover the story in this is difficult, the first edit of the film was 90 minutes long and much had to be excised to limit it to the round about 1 hour mark. This means that the film doesn’t always make absolute lyrical sense. The vampiric element seems to be more around a serial killer – however had exposition been more forthcoming this may have contained enough for me to review the film. As it is, I decided for the honourable mention.

Mr BesshaWe are in the world of Mr Bessha and the voice over that we hear is by him. He was a teacher and a writer. He had been in love but she had left him. He has drifted to Tokyo where he has become an observer of unidentified followed objects – in other words he follows strangers around. He tells all this to a young man he has followed. In a trailer nearby the young man’s friend masturbates though she knows they watch her. The young man mentions something called blood storm.

reflectionsBlood storm is the act of drawing blood off your lover and injecting it into yourself. The young man believes it gives you a high. Bessha also follows a mysterious woman with a black coat and shades. There is a beautifully shot moment of them stood in the city as people pass by and it gives an unmistakable aura of alieness to the two.

followingA cameraman shoots a scene of the two youths and asks what they think of the reports of dead bodies drained of blood and the idea that a vampire has returned. They seem disinterested – a picture of disinfected youth. The camera turns to Bessha and he admits that he would like to be bitten by a vampire. His following of the woman continues.

blood into sinkWhen he is told about blood storm he asks whether the couple have heard of AIDS (this is, I believe, the first Japanese film that tackled the virus). Bessha coughs a lot and, having told a story about a suicide by injecting air into the veins, he collapses.

meeting the doctorHe is approached later by a Dr Kurebayashi Atsuo who asks him to follow someone. She was a guinea pig for experimental steroid treatment, he says, and he wants her kept an eye on as she became addicted to the treatment. The woman is the lady in black. Bessha finally meets her and becomes, after she bites him, convinced she is a vampire.

russian rouletteThe Doctor later tells him that she is, in fact, his wife. He gave Bessha the task as he thought the man would like it – Bessha's results have shown him to be HIV+. The Doctor also gives him a vial of digitalis if things get too much. Bessha begins playing Russian roulette with the poison.

tragic consequencesThe film seems almost non-linear and at times we wonder who follows who. The Doctor pays the couple to follow Bessha, following his wife and yet sometimes the order is reversed and the wife follows Bessha, who follows the youths. The crux of the story seems to be a business that released ‘product’ contaminated with HIV and the lady in black is murdering those involved by draining their blood. Her and Bessha’s relationship will have tragic consequences.

suspecting vampirismI can’t say this is a great film as the exposition is faulty. However it is, despite the low budget, beautifully shot in places and has an almost dogme artistry to it. It is also rather rude in places. An unusual slice of Japanese cinema. The imdb page is here.

No comments: