• June 2018– My first viewing—starts off with a complex narrative but the dedication to the gorgeous aesthetic is evident quickly
  • I see some of Hitchcock, Lynch (way before Lynch of course) and Powell’s Peeping Tom with the voyeurism and angles
  • Freeze frame in several key sequences
  • Countless shots are through windows with natural obstructions in the frame—even curtains to make a frame within a frame- spectacular mise-en-scene– truly an artistic achievement
  • Imamura deliberately messes with the viewer’s expectations—it’s about a guy (and his pal) who are pornographers—but he doesn’t tell you if some of these quick vignettes are their movie or not. There also is a great scene where we have what appears to be non-diegetic music that shift to diegetic as they show a guy playing the flute
  • There’s hints of Bunuel throughout—even Von Trier (this is 1966) with them using a disabled girl for their adult movie. Probably a stronger chance that was funny in 1966 than it is now.
  • There’s clear hypocrisy in the main character here (Bunuel) but he does so in a funny way- as he supplies another man with enhancement pills he calls it social welfare, Like Bunuel there are savory or redeemable characters here- it’s all dog eat dog—absurdism
  • Very busy mise-en-scene—lots of shots off glass and through fish tanks—it’s visual bravado and audacious – a clear aesthetic dedication to mise-en-scene like Von Sternberg and Ozu—there’s 30-50 gorgeous set designs and arrangements
  • Japanese doors as framing (Ozu) and windows as framing (Renoir)
  • A gorgeous shot (long shot) of a long take of a girl walking down a corridor towards the camera—then the next shot is a gorgeous row of legs—both stunners
  • The vignettes are really about man’s preoccupation with sex
  • Wild spontaneous rock music and then a quick reverse tracking shot—odd and flashy
  • Talking carp from beyond the grave
  • Another freeze frame when he has the big sex dutch doll idea
  • End sort of like Frankenstein with his assistant—he’s losing his mind drifting to sea by candlelight with no power and then we have the framing of the 3 faces (one his and two dolls)
  • The ending is very meta—two guys watching talking “do you think he dies?” let’s start the next movie”- brilliant

viewing 2.0 April 2019

  • Like Imamura’s previous work there’s an obsessiveness on Ozu-like framing, sex (very un-Ozu-like), animals (pigs, insects, fish here, eels later on in Vengeance is Mine)
  • faces right in front of the frame during sex– it’s pretty remarkable that even during sex scenes Imamura is shooting it in-line with his aesthetic dedication
  • a great freeze-frame montage 9 minutes in
  • there’s a lineage to Renior here with the shots outside of windows using the frame within the frame
  • meticulous frame staging– gorgeous– an absolute triumpth– 50+ times, shots through fish tanks, glass doors– formally sound too because he bounces these off longer shots as if looking on from a terrace across the way like a voyeur– like Rear Window – it’s am ambitious structure and arrangement of shots on top of the individual shot composition achievements
  • Imamura, like Ozu, is a master of mise-en-scene– one of cinema’s greatest
  • obstructions– pillars, columns, window brackets, shots through a cracked door (shrinking the frame) or a curtain left open by a hair
  • even the freeeze-frame shot of flashback of the car accident (which becomes an odd sexual fetish later) is meticulously blocked by the mechanism under the truck
  • taboos– incest, comedy and tragedy right next to each other– there’s abuse in one scene and the next he’s sending in a prostitute to a man who requested a virgin and he asks the girl how her baby is- haha
  • there’s a comment here on commerce, capitalism and the divine comedy of it all– he’s always going broke putting a plan together to keep going– madness– as mad as his sexual obsessions– this is nihilism
  • I think the decent into madness in the final leg of the film is set up– robots and talking fish
  • even the final shot is so well framed- we have a candle, a robot and his face in different depths
  • A masterpiece