Monday, August 08, 2016

Blood Bead

“Tokita, already into his middle age, has been teaching at a film school in Kyoto for a while. He would prefer to be directing films rather than teaching about them but it pays the bills and life isn’t bad. Indeed, he is having an affair with Yui, the pretty secretary of the film school. Still, the fact that he hasn’t been able to finish his script and find funding for his project nags him enormously. He is a filmmaker not a schoolteacher... Then, on the street, he runs into a striking young high school girl and his life changes. Not necessarily for the better. He is immediately smitten with Ritsuko. He begins to stalk her. He becomes delusional. His life itself becomes a film. And its ending has not been written.”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

I enjoyed this movie (what's not to like with a movie with lots of beautiful nudity?) but it's a little hard to talk about it. I'll do my best. The story is relatively simple and yet rather complex altogether. However, it’s always interesting when movie makers turn the camera on themselves.

Movie director Tokita (Eiji Okuda) is teaching at a film school in Kyoto. He has a rather good life with his mistress Yui, a secretary at the film school, but he would rather be making movies than teaching about them. However, he has not been able to finish a script in a while. He says that, as long as he is thinking about a script, he can still feel he is a director. He is currently working on a pinku eiga script largely inspired by his relationship with Yui.

Tokita is in his sixties and can hardly get an erection, particularly when he's drunk, but it only makes him more obsess with sex. The title of the movie refers to the "Akadama” legend saying that a blood bead will come out to mark the very last ejaculation of a man.

One day, he notices a high school girl and starts following her, stalking her and becomes obsess by her. He imagines having an affair with her, rapping her even, but he is stuck and doesn't know how to end his story. At some point, he discovers that the school girl prostitutes herself (she's charging $700!). He succumbs to the temptation and sleeps with her, but feels disgusted with himself afterward. Seeing his increasing obsession for Ritsuko while typing the script, Yui decides to leave Tokita.

Tokita feels desperate but succeed to finish the script anyway and presents it to a production company which doesn't sound very receptive. He pleads that it would be his last movie, and ask to please give him a chance! Tokita gets drunk but, as he receives an email from the production company saying that they agree to finance his movie on some conditions, he gets hit by a car and dies!

Once again we have here a movie that tackles the subject of the increasingly older population of Japan which reflects a serious preoccupation among the population. This time we are presented with the despair that sexual frustration and the worth of one's legacy can provide to an elderly man.

Director Banmei Takahashi, who is himself not unfamiliar with pinku eiga, said in the Q&A that he thought young directors were not putting enough sex in their movies and he wanted to remedy that. He also said that he killed the main character at the end because one of his friends died that way and he wanted to make an homage to him.

During the course of the movie we follow both Tokita's life, the story of his script as well as his own fantasies, and this makes it rather difficult sometimes to discern which is what. However, it is a good and interesting movie -- albeit a little weird -- that offers a reflection not only on Japanese cinema but also on the life of elderly men. And, of course, there's plenty of sex scenes!

Blood Bead (赤い玉、/ Akai Tama / Perle de sang): Japan, 2015, 108 min.; Dir./Scr.: Banmei Takahashi; Music: Gorô Yasukawa; Phot.: Shinji Ogawa; Ed.: Kan Suzuki; Cast: Eiji Okuda (Shuji Tokita), Fujiko (Yui Oba), Yukino Murakami (Ritsuko Kitakoji), Shota Hanaoka (Kenichi Yajima), Shiori Doi (Aiko Kato), Tasuku Emoto (Aoyama), Keiko Takahashi (Yuriko). For a mature audience (18+).

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 29th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 10, 19h00 – the theatre was a little less than half full) as part of the “World Great” segment. The director was present for a Q&A after the screening.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Blood Bead © 2015「Blood Bead」Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction and Q&A

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