Zero Man vs. The Half Virgin is the newest film from director Sakichi Satô, writer of Ichi the Killer and director of Tokyo Zombie. It is an odd film and only adds to the reputation strange things that come out of Japan. Seemingly fearless in examination of the human condition, Satô builds a tale of a man struggling with an existential crisis of a very different sort. This is not going to be an easy film for many western audiences to watch, as it is intended for adults and has some very sexually explicit content.
Sakuragi is a low level beat cop who suddenly can’t remember anything. He is quite literally in the middle of the workday, and with the help of his partner and some questions, is able to piece together who he is and where he lives. He discovers that he can see numbers on people’s foreheads whenever he becomes sexually aroused, so sets about trying to discover what they are, what they mean and why only he can see them. Along the way, he discovers a girl with a 0.5 on her forehead, and sets his sights on her as a means to end his own virginity as well as have a virgin himself. In pursuing her, he sets into motion a series of events that are oddly bad, or badly odd, for them both.
Shot in a very straightforward manner it seeks to understand what it means to be a virgin, and exactly how far one can go before they are no longer a virgin. It is a sexually probing film that actually has almost no sex or nudity for that matter. It gets into the more sexually charged areas through dialogue and innuendo, and it is relentless in this regard. It does have some rather funny and interesting sequences with Sakuragi desperately trying to control events while having no idea what he is doing, or why. And then there is how he sees the numbers, without going into too much detail, is with his hand in his pocket, so to speak.
The uncomfortable feeling coupled with the weirdness of the story actually work well in this film. The loopy sort of vulgar laughs and intriguing plot twists overcome the references to molestation, underage call girls, and incest by how outlandish the entire thing unfolds. And just when you think you have the film figured out, Sakichi Satô throws a new twist on the bizarre and keeps going. The subject might come off as vulgar had it not been for the quick and sharp dialogue. In fact, the film relies heavily on not only the strength of the actors to time the jokes very closely, but also to use facial expressions to emphasize thoughts.
Much of the film is dedicated to Sakuragi’s fascination with the numbers and sex. Its humor generally disarms ill feelings about the subject matter. While not as intriguing as some of Satô’s earlier work, it is a well done dark comedy that will appeal enthusiasts of odd and bizarre films, as it has both in spades.
Here at XavierPop, we strive to bring you the most in-depth coverage of the best Festivals the city has to offer. Chris MaGee, co-founder of The Shinsedai Cinema Festival announced that the fourth annual edition of the festival will be presented at The Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles Village, from Thursday, July 12 through Sunday, July 15, 2012. Celebrating the new generation of films from Japan, the festival has become an avenue for young Japanese filmmakers to have their work screened overseas. It is renowned for presenting: dramas, quirky comedies, hard-hitting documentaries, experimental shorts and more. The Festival has also commissioned Toronto-based musicians and sound artists to create live scores for numerous classic Japanese silent films which is actually a very neat idea.
This year’s lineup includes:
Ringing in Their Ears – Opening Night Gala Thursday, July 12, 2012 7:00 PM
Yu Irie (8000 Miles 1 & 2) returns with this ambitious flick about an upcoming concert by a reclusive rock group and the managers, obsessed fans, shut-ins, single moms and kindergarten teachers who are affected by it.
Enter the Cosmos: Takashi Makino Special Thursday, July 12, 2012 9:30 PM
Experimental Japanese filmmaker Takashi Makino has created a unique vision that immerses the audience in layers of light, color, visual dissonance and abstract sound.
The Ghost Cat And The Mysterious Shamisen Friday July 13, 2012 7:00 PM
A rarely seen 1938 Japanese horror film that uses, but predates most of what modern Japanese horror is known for today. A fiery love triangle and a cat that returns from the grave form the chilling core of the film.
Zero Man vs. The Half Virgin Friday July 13, 2012 9:00 PM
Sakichi Sato wrote the script for two of Japan’s biggest cult hits: Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer and Gozu. Now he directs his own script of a cop who sees a number on everyone’s forehead. What they mean and why he sees them leads him to an unexpected, and frightening, conclusion.
The Naked Summer Saturday July 14, 2012 1:30 PM
Each year Akaji Maroand the members of Dairakudakan invite both professional dancers and curious amateurs to participate in an intimate dance retreat where they receive a crash course in the philosophy and practice of this fascinating art form.
From the Great White North: Yubari Fanta Special Saturday July 14, 2012 4:30 PM
The central Hokkaido town of Yubari hosts the important and storied Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival which has become one of the most important events for young independent Japanese filmmakers. The Shinsedai Cinema Festival is proud to present this programme of short films coordinated directly with Yubari director Yasuhiro Togawa.
End Of The Night Saturday July 14, 2012 7:00 PM
A Hitman takes a child from a murder scene and raises him as his own, making him the perfect killer. Life, it seems, has other plans for the child. A crime-filled examination of nature versus nurture from first time feature filmmaker Daisuke Miyazaki.
Battle Girls & Bondage: A Pink Film Double Bill Saturday July 14, 2012 9:30 PM
Pink Film is a style of Japanese soft-core pornographic theatrical film. Due to the nature of censorship in Japan, filmmakers have had to be very creative in how they display what is happening onscreen. 18 and over only for this viewing.
Hiroshima Nagasaki Download Sunday July 15, 2012 1:30 PM
The hibakusha, or “explosion-affected people”, are the survivors of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Filmmaker Shinpei Takeda and producer Eiji Wakamatsu seek out the surviving hibakusha to tell their tales.
Good For Nothing SundayJuly 15, 2012 4:00 PM
A stylish piece about three men just out of high school whom are contemplating their future while working for a security firm. First time director Sho Miyake, attempting to make a “film without a frame”, shoots in majestic black & white.
Beyond Anime: The Outer Limits Sunday July 15, 2012 6:00 PM
An interesting mix of Japanese animation shorts that are not the typical Anime the nation is known for producing.
“Beyond Anime: The Outer Limits, was originally curated by Jasper Sharp for the second annual Zipangu Fest in London and now comes to Toronto to astound audiences. From the psychedelic visual assault of Yoshihiro Haku + Sachiko Hiraoka to the delicate visions of Sayaka Oku Beyond Anime will take adventurous audiences from the well trodden paths of anime to the farthest reaches of Japan’s animation landscape.”
Tentsuki – Closing Night Film Sunday July 15, 2012 8:00 PM
Masafumi Yamada’s story of a man running from the yakuza whom ends up hiding out in an unmapped portion of Kyoto. Similar in style to David Lynch or perhaps some of Takashi Miike’s more abstract work.
This list consists of the main features, though there are shorts with almost every film. Tickets and passes for the 4th Annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival are now on sale. Tickets and festival passes can be purchased in person at either Eyesore Cinema (801 Queen Street West, 2nd Flr.) or Things Japanese (128 Harbord Street), but they can also be purchased online through http://shinsedai.ca/tickets. Three options are available, $12 for a single ticket, a 5 film pass for $50 and a Deluxe Pass that gains entry to all shows for $108.
65 days until the 2012 edition of theToronto International Film Festival. Are you ready?
To get us in the mood, the folks at TIFF have just dropped the trailer for this year’s edition. Nothing really new or special here, just a nice little teaser that will definitely get you in the mood.
Enjoy and see you in September.
The Bloor Cinema was shut down last year for remodeling and has reopened as the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Toronto After Dark Film Festival has returned to the venue by hosting a pair of screenings this summer. Usually reserved for October, the Festival wanted to give those that can’t wait a chance to come out and enjoy some horror, sci-fi, cult and actions films.
We at Xavierpop love the Toronto After Dark Fest (and it shows by our reviews of every film last year) and are very happy for this summer tease. It is perfect timing as the city is alive with culture around the Canada Day Long Weekend and the fest is a perfect. So on Wednesday, June 27 and then two weeks later on Wednesday, July 11 head on over to the Hot Docs Cinema to catch some great films.
To start the festivities off, the June 27th movies are the Juan of the Dead and The Pact.
Juan of the Dead is a Cuban produced dark comedy about the island nation being overrun by zombies. Although the title closely mimics Simon Pegg‘s Shaun of the Dead, beyond having dark humor, and zombies, and being shot on an island, that is where similarities end.
The Pact is about an unsettling presence emerges in a woman’s childhood home as she tries to unravels a mystery in the wake of her mother’s death. Offering a slow burn with a strong ending, this promises to be a dark ghost story.
The second night of films (July 11th) includes Detention and V/H/S.
Detention is a genre smashing tour de force featuring a group of high-schoolers trying to catch a serial killer with the help of some time travel, all whilst stuck in detention on prom night!
V/H/S is about a group of kids that break into a house, finding a VHS tape that includes some things they did not bargain for. An anthology of five shorts uses found footage editing to tell it’s stories.
Individual Film Tickets are $13 each, with discounts for Bloor Cinema Members ($11), buying Double Feature packs ($22), or Summer All-Access (4-Pack Passes) ($39) and also come with the added benefit of Priority Seating. The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is located at 506 Bloor St West at Bathurst.
Living in Toronto, one can easily get caught up and used to how big the film scene is here. Powered by one of the most diverse and strongest group of film festivals in the world, film nerds live in their little Utopia from March to November. While the big ones like Hot Docs, Worldwide Shorts and the grandaddy of them all TIFF garner most of the attention, it is very important that we not overlook what I like to call the micro-film festival. I use the word micro not to illustrate size but the hyper-focus of the subject matter that provides a unique situation that one cannot find anywhere. Festivals like Toronto After Dark, Toronto Korean Film Festival, TIFF Kids and the right-around-the-corner Shinsedai Cinema Festival allow a cinephile / film nerd the proper experience one needs to shape a strong palette based on a lovely diversity and deep viewing experience of film.
Of course we will continue our unmatched coverage of these festivals, however one I would like to bring to your attention is the 4th Annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival, an annual showcase of the best in new, independent and rarely seen Japanese films. Conceived of by programmers Chris MaGee and Jasper Sharp in 2009, the festival was created with the intent to expand people’s ideas of what films from Japan are and can be. Running from July 12th and July 15th, 2012 the lineup includes a list of insightful dramas, quirky comedies, hard-hitting documentaries, experimental shorts and more.
There are several ways to enjoy The Shinsedai Cinema Festival: 1. Individual tickets: All individual tickets for The Shinsedai Cinema Festival are $12.00 (*$10.00 for students and seniors) 2. A 5 Film Pass**: This pass entitles its holder access to any five ticketed slots at The Shinsedai Cinema Festival for only $50.00, an overall savings of over 15%, or $10.00. Available for purchase until Friday July 6, 2012. 3. Deluxe Pass**: This pass entitles its holder access to all ticketed slots at The Shinsedai Cinema Festival. That’s four days of great films for only $108.00, an overall savings of 25% , or $38.00. Available for purchase until Friday July 6, 2012.
Parkdale (15 min) is the first and best short, shot on-location in Toronto, directed by Lisa Jackson. It tells the story of a teenaged girl and her younger sister as they try to avoid another stint in foster care when Children’s Aid is onto the fact that their father is too busy getting high or into trouble to care for them. It’s well written and well performed and directed with grittiness by Jackson, making fine use of several recognizable locations in Toronto and giving the city a tough and sad feel for the kinds of folks who’ve fallen through the cracks. Terrific.
Silent Cargo (16 min) is a brutal experience that considers weeks in the life of a dozen illegal immigrants being shipped in cargo containers across the ocean. They live in filth and squalor and there is no guarantee that any of them will survive the ordeal, but it’s the chance they’ll take in order to taste a better life anywhere than where they came from. The actors go through a process that sees them clinging to their hopes of making a new beginning but who end up hoping to just survive an extraordinarily brutal trip.
Oliver Bump’s Birthday (16 min) lives in its own universe and has its own set of really strange rules, like how 12 year-old child prodigy Oliver will end up having to die on his 13th birthday, which occurs at 9 pm on the day that it happens. Do you suppose he was born at 9 pm, or is it more likely that 9 is this universe’s midnight? Oliver’s parents are nice folks, and they’ve seen their other 3 children off to death on the occasion of their birthdays as well, but Oliver doesn’t want to be just another statistic. With the help of a friend and his imagination, he is literally aiming for the stars with a secret spaceship he’s built up in the attic. Terrific acting and some interesting ideas here in a story that would find trouble trying to stretch itself out into feature territory, but that works better as a short episode.
The Secret of Goat (15 min) is such a kooky and peculiar film. You may get seriously annoyed by it, or you may find it droll with its young lovers who live out in the woods. They talk like Canadians but they go around looking like leftovers from a bad Oktoberfest commercial with their frilly costumes. He wants to love her long-time and in practically every location — indoor, outdoor, you name it. But she isn’t really into pleasures of the flesh and it causes a disturbance in the force one day as she catches him pleasuring himself out in the woods. I’m sure that’s crucial character development, but I just can’t really say how that is exactly. Anyway, they buy a goat one autumn that only he can milk, since apparently he’s got the “touch” or something, while she can only get the goat to shoot blanks. Then a funny thing happens when he starts to take on goat-like characteristics. The Secret of Goat is a must-see only because it wouldn’t be fair that I am the only one who has those images burned into my brain. You deserve them, too, so that you can then decide if this is one of the worst shorts you’ve ever seen. This one’s a turkey dressed as a goat, methinks.
Check out our coverage of the WorldWide Short Film Festival:
- MovieJay Really Enjoys The ‘Celebrity Shorts’ Programme - Douglas Breaks Down The ‘X-Ray Spex’ Programme - MovieJay Reviews The ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ Programme - Now Onto The ‘Homeland Security’ Programme - Xavierpop Takes On The ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ Programme - MovieJay Reviews The “All Tomorrow’s Parties” Programme - Douglas Godhino Reviews The ‘Superfans’ Programme - Xavierpop Takes on The “Creative Control” Programme - MovieJay Reviews the “War, What Is It Good For?” Programme - MovieJay Reviews ‘The Family Compact” Programme - Next Up A Look At the ‘Iron Ladies’ Programme - Xavierpop Covers ‘The Love Hurts’ Official Selection - A Break-Down The ‘Who’s Your Dada?’ Programme - MovieJay Reviews The Opening Night Gala: Winners From Around the World - The @xvrpop Ultimate Worldwide Short Film Fest Preview - The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival’s Screenplay $50,000 Giveaway is Back!