Monday, March 1, 2010

Mad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know

At the opposite end of the stereotype of docile Japanese women—heroic good mothers, chaste daughters and hardworking faithful wives—actresses Ayako Wakao, Mariko Okada and Meiko Kaji embodied the transgression of limits, breaking rules, flouting norms and generally upsetting everyone.

This series explores the idea of unconventional beauty that these spellbinding actresses created through an unparalleled body of films. Both Wakao and Okada were muses and inspiration for two major film directors, Yasuzo Masumura and Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, respectively, while Kaji navigated between filmmakers, a wild card of Japanese cinema at the time. Put together, their films delineate what one could call an aesthetic of “convulsive beauty” (André Breton).

The first fiesty film is Tattoo (A.K.A. The Spider Tattoo) featuring Ayako Wakao, Akio Hasegawa, and Gaku Yamamoto. Directed by Yasuzo Masumura. Adapted by Kaneto Shindo from the acclaimed 1910 short story by Junichiro Tanizaki.

This is a dark and erotic tale, Tattoo follows the descent of a woman whose extreme beauty and ferocious nature bring her to the abyss. Otsuya, the daughter of a wealthy pawnbroker, charms her weak-willed lover into eloping with her. As they try to escape, she is abducted and sold to a geisha house by unscrupulous ruffians. Soon, she catches the eye of a tattoo master who uses her body as a living surface for his unholy art: he engraves into her flawless ivory flesh a large and monstrous spider tattoo. As if under the invisible influence of its evil force, Otsuya grows ever more wicked as she excels in the trade she has been forced into, eventually consuming the lives of the unwitting men she holds in her thrall. Did the tattoo artist transform her into the creature she has become, irredeemably spoiling her soul and skin, or in fact unleash the beast within?

Since this is the opening screening, it's going to be followed by the DRESSED TO KILL party!

Better get your tickets soon. I get the feeling this film is going to sell out fast.

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