Saturday was a butt-killing triple feature starting with Hell.
Hell is a Thai movie. Much like Necromancer, it is very serious and very violent. 7 people die in a car crash and end up in hell. But this hell is similar to most government bureaucracies : It is chaotic, confused, and prone to very basic errors like, for example, putting people in hell who aren't dead yet. Visually, Hell resembles the original Conan the Barbarian movie, dirty but beautiful. The characters all have their sins to pay for, and as expressed in the movie alcoholism yields a bigger punishment than theft. Somehow the way hell is organized is very disturbing. Not because of the endless scenes of torture the inhabitants endures, that's the whole point of hell if you believe in that sort of thing. What disturbs me the most is how disorganized it is, how easy it is to escape or hide, and how surprisingly, despite all of this, our seven hero appear to be the first ever to make such attempts. Good but not great. 5.5 with a butt-factor of 0.5.
Moving on to Shinobi. Shinobi's story may be standard fare, but that's where "standard" ends. Visually, the movie is stunningly beautiful and smells of high-budget, high-quality cinematography. The story, as I said, is traditional : Romeo and Juliet combined with Ninjas. Which is as good an idea on-screen as it is on paper. To settle a war between two villages, 5 shinobis from each village are send on a battle to kill each-other. Once all the members of one village are dead, the others will be able to gain an enormous amount of power in determining the next Shogun. The problem is, the leaders of both gangs of shinobis are lovers who are tragically made to fight one-another. As is most often the case, just a tiny bit of rational would save a tremendous amount of suffering. But that would make for a pretty boring movie now would it? And boring, along with ugly and uninspired, are traits this movie does not have. The design of the 10 shinobis is awesome, they all have their own special powers, from breathing out a poisoning clouds of mist to being unable to die. The story, albeit standard, is not without it's twists. And at the risk of repeating myself, what sets this movie apart the most is the production value and awesome imagery. 9.0 out of 10, with a butt-factor of 0.5. If you see one martial arts movie this year...
Concluding with the final part of this threesome, the soft-porn political commentary that is The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai. It all sounded awesome on paper. Softcore pornography combined with philosophical and political commentary. The premise is as twisted as it is imaginative. Average horny tutor Sachiko is accidentally caught in the crossfire of a shady deal gone wrong, and is shot in the head. Strangely, that bullet doesn't kill her. Instead it turned her into a genius who is obsessed with and has an apparently infinite capability of learning. She starts studying great philosophers such as Descartes and modern political commentators like Noam Chomsky. And she can't stop discussing deep philosophical and political matters, even during intercourse. Which is just added value for a fellow male teacher, a concept similar to the famous massage parlor scene in Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain* (The Decline of the American Empire). You see, she may have become a genius, but she is no less horny than before. The plot twists when she finds a cloned finger of George W. Bush in her purse, and even starts seeing the evil president in dreams and fantasies. What is the purpose of that finger? Watch and see. However let me warn that although it all may sound awesome on paper, watching it isn't. The sex scenes areplentifull and as graphic as softcore pornography can get. As with mostJapanesee sex movies there is at least one and probably two cases of rape (the point at which one third of the theater audience leaves). At least there aren't as many as in last year's Stop the Bitch Campaign, which had only that. Most of the sex scenes are so weird that they don't get to be very exciting, despite the beauty of the lead actress. There are a few funny moments, and you can't help but admire the premise. Overall though, it was pretty disappointing. 3.5 out of 10 with a butt-factor or 1.
*Although the concept of this film is seen in part in Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain, I am in no way comparing both movies. That one being a masterpiece and this one being, well, sucky. Just thought I'd get that out of the way.