Monday, February 18, 2008

Crazed Fruit (1956)

* Japanese iteration of a youth/Beat film displays similar ideas about post-war aimlessness and malaise, with boredom being seen not as a condition but as a way of life. No surprise that said boredom and restlessness leads to delinquency, moral turpitude and other such shocking things (idle hands, ya know); what is surprising is the rich vein of humor that gets mined before the grim finale. (Great Moments in Dialogue: "Long hair doesn't go with Hawaiian shirts.")

* Plot centers around a love/lust triangle created when young, innocent Haruji (Masahiko Tsugawa) falls for sweet young thing Eri (Mie Kitahara), arousing the jealousy and competitive nature of his old brother Natsuhisa (Yujiro Ishihara). Before things go south, director Kô Nakahira demonstrates his perfect understanding of the ways of adolescent love -- that horrid sense of being young, awkward and attracted.

* There's a scene where Haruji goes looking for Natsuhita, instead finding an older lady-friend of his. After a short dialogue scene, Natsuhita shows up, Later, he tells Haruji that although this lady-friend has been with many men with no feeling attached, Haruji "made her heart go pitter-pat." That there's some cruel foreshadowing.

* Nakihara's framing is really tight in a bunch of scenes, just a little too tight so that visual information gets crowded out of the frame. Faces are cut in half, conversations are one-sided, people reach for things offscreen; the prevailing sense is one of exuberance, of so much being expressed that it can't all fit in the space allotted for storytelling. Pretty nifty, methinks.

* Dark ending has a character in a boat literally leaving a wake after committing a brutal act of violence, a nice visual reminder that our actions do not occur in a vacuum.

* Recurring motif: Things in this film are often said to be happening, "the day after tomorrow." Is this the present-weary characters looking to the future or an admission that tomorrow will be just as fucked as today?

* First thought upon seeing female lead Kitahara: DUDE SHE'S ROCKING A MULLET

Grade: B


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