As with last year’s Nikkatsu Action series, I can tell that this year’s Pinku Film showcase is going to be both my favorite portion of the festival and one of the most underappreciated. Last night’s screening of Blue Film Woman had a lean number of attendees, but those who were there were appreciative of what they were getting to see, the first American showing of a choice 60′s pink film on a gorgeous new 35mm print. So, was this a bunch of sweaty weirdos assembled to ogle a porn film together? Any one of the horror movies I’ve seen at the festival this year was far more sexually explicit than this, or most, pink film. The allure of pink movies, like the allure of a lot of exploitation, is that once the director fulfilled his obligation to show however many nipples demanded by the studio contract, he was essentially given complete freedom to populate the rest of the movie with whatever bizarre vision he might have. This lack of oversight could obviously lead to some cinematic disasters, but since many of the Japanese pink filmmakers were highly trained mainstream artists who were being forced to slum, the number of pink films which are not just watchable, but highly imaginitive and visually engaging is actually quite high. They could also be completely sick, bizarre and deeply cringeworthy, and those tend to be my favorites.
Blue Film Woman, was, blessedly one of those latter films. It was deeply, hilariously wrong.
As one of the earlier examples of a full-color widescreen pinku, Blue Film Woman seems to work on two levels. The projections of sexy images on unclothed women, the color filters, the strobe effects and the funk and soul music (e.g., James Brown) scream of the psychedelic 60s. On the other hand, the film is a morality play that seems to be as conservative as it is depraved. The story is a tragic drama whose core is driven by sex and money. At first, sex and money are shown as potential paths to independence for the women. This idea collapses as the men are the ultimate winners in this greedy fight for survival. Perhaps the chance encounter between Hiroshi and Uchiyama, which is so unexpectedly loony as to defy description, is some sort of justice but Uchiyama walks away. Of course, given the nature of pinku eiga, Mukai’s mixing of these elements could just have easily been the result of a haphazard coincidence. Regardless, Blue Film Woman is a great example of early pinku eiga that deserves to be seen.
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