Aug 19

Strawberry Shortcakes (2006) aka Sutoroberii Shooto Keikusu

Based on the eponymous manga for girls by cartoonist Kiriko Nananan, the pic follows the ups and downs of four female friends in Tokyo looking for love and trying to cope with the responsibilities in their lives. The main characters, impeccably played by four powerful actresses, are modern, self-sufficient women and their stories are told with mild irony and a dash of melancholy. The result is a movie that is lighthearted at times, a little sad at others, crazy and sometimes serious, but always special, that investigates the psychology of its characters and offers an accurate depiction of urban Japan, thanks to its director’s know-how. While many overly ambitious directors struggle to tell even one fairly comprehensible story, Yazaki skillfully weaves a powerful depiction of not one, but four women, creating an indissoluble and moving whole that doesn’t succumb to sentimentalism.

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Aug 18

Josefine Mutzenbacher Wie sie wirklich war 2 Teil (1976)

Prostitute Josephine Muntzenbacher, played by a beautiful, tall, young girl, cheerfully narrates her great sexual adventure. Diving straight into the business of the day, Josephine recounts her non-stop sexual experiences. We follow from her wonderment at the discovery of ‘man-milk’ to her realisation that her pussy is worth gold. Every man who crosses her path feels her seductive hand.

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Aug 17

Confessions of a Secretary (1976) aka Onna hisho no kokuhaku: kaniku no shitatari (1976)

Erratic director Yukihiko Kondo moved into darker, more carnal territory than he had explored in his previous work with this problematic but worthwhile pinku eiga entry from Nikkatsu. Hitomi Kozue stars as Ayako, a corporate secretary who was once raped by a company executive and was awarded her current position as compensation. Ayako sees a younger woman raped in a stairwell by the same guy, and starts looking over shoulder, as she’s sure she is about to lose her job in favor of the young victim. She’s right, but Ayako still manages to have one last corporate fling when she attends a wanton orgy with a gay male co-worker. Sleazy and unpleasant, but well-paced and at times quite erotic, this was one of Nikkatsu’s more interesting releases of the year. Erina Miyai co-stars as Kei Sasao and Hirokazu Ito.

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Aug 17

Rules Of Dating (2005) aka Yeonae-ui mokjeok (연애의 목적)

Choi (Kang Hye-Jung) begins work as a student-teacher at a high school. During her first day on the job, English teacher Lee Yoo-Rim (Park Hae-Il) hits on her in a very brash manner. Choi then using his position as a superior and any other method he can think of tries to get Choi to go out with him and eventually he succeeds. The problem is that they are both in long lasting relationships. Choi is actually engaged to a doctor, while Lee Yoo-Rim dated the same woman for the past six years. While Lee Yoo-Rim seems to be content with having their relationship continue as an affair, Choi worries about having sex without “love.” Eventually the administration at their place of work finds out about their relationship and they must now hide or reveal their relationship. The result is an an unexpected reversal of roles between them as co-workers, as well as a reversal of dynamics in their personal relationship.

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Aug 14

July 32nd (2010) Uncut aka 7월 32일

Directed by Jin Seung Hyun, the curiously titled indie drama July 32nd is inspired by the short story “Full Moon” by acclaimed writer Ko Un. Screened at the 2008 Fukuoka Film Festival and the 2008 Shanghai Film Festival, the film depicts the tumultuous relationship of a killer and his daughter, whose lives are upturned on July 31, 1987. Pursued by the police, he leaves his five-year-old daughter in someone else’s care, promising to pick her up the next day. But the next day never comes because he soon gets arrested. Years later, the abandoned daughter has grown up, and the waiting has turned into the longing for revenge.

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