Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Brain Sex (1988) Hiseyasu Sato

Violence and the media have an uncomfortable, incestuous relationship. Well no sh!t Sherlock, pretty much anyone who has ever taken a critical interest in violence or the media knows this. The trouble with making films on the matter is that this relationship is so vastly aged, so sprawling in complexity and so endlessly fertile that a film could take four hours and multi-layered narrative and not run out of things to say. Naturally, a film of an average length really has its work cut out to not appear trite, and a film barely feature length is pretty well set for a fall. So, Brain Sex doesn't tell you anything you don't probobly already know. It's your average teen girl who makes hysterical and exploitative radio broadcasts for a living getting involved with a serial killer story, with little to surprise other than some underdeveloped climactic twists. What makes it at least marginally worth a look though is that it isn't a censorious drone or even a standard issue weird and vicious late 80's pinku (the genre having wound up tumbling over its own ambitions to shock by that time), but a more personal work, built on director Hiseyasu Sato's own interests.

It can be taken as a double sided film, to newcomers to the director it develops many of his trademarks within a recognisable generic story and to the already initiate nearly the opposite, developing his trademarks by snaring recognisable generic story in their web. Characters cloaked in isolation, emotionally chilled even when bouyed up with excitement, older generation who can do little but pass on their flaws. Voyuerism, manipulation and control, the very modern death dance of technology and base animal, sick sweet spiral of perverse minds in congress, attraction of opposites. The usual good stuff then, and some reflection on the viewer in scenes of sex and murder consumed through binoculars. Unfortunately Sato messes up the pacing, and so a well handled and reasonably unsettling first half devolves into overlong sex and masturbation scenes that leach suspense from the plot, then the final five to ten minutes whizzes through would should have taken at least double that for effective impact. I'm not the sort of guy to usually complain about extended scenes of naughtiness but Sato isn't working independent here so can't go hardcore, and even worse doesn't overdrive the perversion. Earlier on there's shoe worship, panty nuzzling and a bit of rope work, but later on things get unappealingly standard. Sure there's self pleasure with a snake, but it's either not a real animal or so drugged up as to be essentially unreal, so the scene comes off little more than camp. Meh, at least the film ends on an amusingly anarchic note. And it's impossible to dislike all the pretty Japanese boobs 'n butts. So I guess all in all this is a little bit of a let down, but I had a pretty sweet time for the most part. And it's still virtually essential for fans of the director or generalised weird pink cinema. 6/10 or so.

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