Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pornostar (1998)

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
Notable Cast: Koji Chihara, Onimaru, Akaji Maro, Tetta Sugimoto, Rin Ozawa, Kiyohiko Shibukawa

Rock 'n roll, slo-motion, passing Tokyo citizens, and one pissed off dude in a green coat walking towards the camera kick off Mr. Toyoda's debut (well technically he made Unchain 1st, but I digress) film, Pornostar, which no, porn has nothing at all to do with this film, but it will grab your attention, no?

 Arano, the lad in the green coat, bumps into a few people, and eventually a Yakuza, in which he really, really hates... not that particular Yakuza, but them in general. So he begins to kill, and kills some more, and more, and so on. That is the plot. Not much to it, but there doesn't need to be, and no, that is not by any means spoiling anything. The premise is a dude in a green coat hates the Yakuza and begins to kill them.

Our beautiful protagonist!?
Along the way, Arano wiggles his way in with some of the gangsters, for his on twisted bloodlust, and with that we get some characters that crop up throughout, sadly none of them are really too memorable, save for Kamiko, played by Onimaru, the Yakuza on his way up, with his on personal vendettas and ambitions to fulfill. Also, much, much later on, there is a cool red-headed lady with a gun, but not much really going on there either. Arano's tiny love interest is also sadly underdeveloped and forgettable as well. I know I sound as if I am ripping the film a new one, but I really liked it actually, it just has problems.

The blistering and rebellious youth tone is spot-on and the overall tone is nailed throughout, with plenty of fantastic, and memorable slo-motion shots scattered about, some iconic knife raining, and other visual images will stick with you long after you've got done watching it. I think the film's greatest strengths lay in these areas. Even if Pornostar fumbles, and it does quite often, it always manages to pick itself back up, and proudly keep on, with its head held high, and I think it is very commendable for it.

I'm blue da ba dee da ba daa . . .
Another thing that didn't work for me, although it is visually cool, is the random (minor spoilers I guess?) skateboarding scene / montage that appears in the middle of the film, without rhyme or reason. Again, it is a neat scene, and the swapping of camera styles and editing are impressive, but not a clue as to what it is doing in there. Really no place for it, but at the same time, and the longer I think, and probably look too much into it, maybe it does work, as it does suit the very in-your-face spirit this film burns immensely with.

There isn't a ton to say on Pornostar, other than see it. It most certainly is interesting, and has a very cult film feel about it and I think this release (which UK label Third Window Films just did) could usher in a new crowd for Toyoda. I personally can't wait to further explore his body of works. This film is a mixed bag, but it is a very memorable mixed bag with some iconic imagery and scenes throughout. Nowhere near perfect, but highly recommended!

Written by Josh Parmer

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