Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sukeban Boy redux

I promised Ticia and Amy that if Amy wrote her review of Sukeban Boy, I would compose my own. I had originally intended to post the two reviews one after the other, in a sort of Siskel and Ebert move, dueling takes on a seriously twisted little film. The reason I didn't was simple: Amy's review was good enough and reflective enough of my own feelings that I didn't think I had anything to add.

Ticia, though, wouldn't leave me alone. She (correctly) pointed out that I still owed this review. So, blame her for what follows.

As I pondered what new I had to say about Sukeban Boy, I realized that I did have an entirely different angle, one that reflected a question that has lingered in my mind for weeks, one that always bothers me after truly weird films:

What was the filmmaker on about?

I know, I know: why bother to analyze such a wispy, blood-soaked bit of ephemera? That answer is easy: all cultural artifacts, pop or otherwise, may be worthy of analysis and teach us things about both those who produced it and those who consume it.

With Sukeban Boy, we could go a lot of directions with this analysis.

Perhaps the director, Noboru Iguchi, wanted to continue to fuse the ultra-violence and fetish genres of Japanese film, a goal he certainly explored with The Machine Girl. Perhaps seeing the many historical and literary intersections of sex and violence in Japanese (and other) cultures, he wanted us to confront those links in the kind of hyper-literal way that truly bloody special effects can often deliver.

On the other hand, Iguchi may have been exploring the sexual power of women in his repressed culture and the hidden yearning of men to own that power themselves, as Sukeban Boy, by becoming an attractive and powerful girl, does at times in the movie. As scenes meld the power of guns with different female body parts in a run-up to the fight with the witch, where we finally see the sexual power of women for the mystic force that it truly is, the film takes on us on a journey of discovery.

Or maybe Iguchi was just having a great time, turning the knob to 11 every single chance he could and blowing up a lot of shit while showing as much flesh as Japanese law would let him.

Personally, I'm betting on the last one, but it's sometimes fun to find the dusty lit-and-film-crit hat in the corner of the office, put it on, and wax academic.


Ticia said...

I get blamed for everything!


Mark said...

Not everything. Not, for instance, Dubya.


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