Friday, 2 May 2008

GO, GO, SECOND TIME VIRGIN (Koji Wakamatsu, 1969)

I finally saw this film as part of a Japanese underground series showing at the Seoul Cinematheque. Go, Go, Second Time Virgin is on one level an exploitation film, and unlike many other Euro art/trash pieces of the period, it holds up in this regard. It remains quite explicit in terms of sex and violence even compared to today's movies, and would likely get an NC-17 from the MPAA. On another level, Wakamatsu tries to create a work of absurdist theatre. Pauline Kael once described Taxi Driver as a tabloid version of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground; I would best label Go, Go, Second Time Virgin as a tabloid version of Becket's Waiting for Godot.

The film begins with a gang rape of a 17 year-old girl on the roof of a building, an act which is stoically observed by another boy. After the rape, she falls asleep and dreams/remembers a previous rape on the beach (a scene shown in blue filtered color, including a striking wide angle close-up with the beach waves crashing in the background). She awakes and begins a prolonged discussion with the boy, starting with banal dialogue, including the phrase "ohayo", meaning "good morning". This is also the title of a 1959 film by Yasujiro Ozu, thus seemingly a homage/parody of the reserved classicism of Ozu (the scene also includes a woman hanging clothes, giving us a familiar Ozu image of clothes blowing in the wind on a building rooftop). The girl also mentions the date August 8th. Given the Japanese context, this is seemingly a reference to the bombings of Hiroshima (August 6th) and Nagasaki (August 9th).

Eventually, the conversation evolves into the girl asking the boy to kill her. We then learn that the boy has already murdered a group of people who forced him to participate in an orgy (shown in another color sequence and presented like an abstract painting). The next night, they re-encounter the boys who raped her, along with a few girls. The rooftop scene turns into an orgy of violence, with the seemingly impotent boy slaughtering the group with a knife, leaving him covered in blood. Wakamatsu inserts a montage sequence in which he shows pictures of Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, who were murdered by the Manson family on August 8th of that year. The next day, the boy and girl leap from the building to their deaths, seemingly the only escape from Japanese society as represented by the apartment complex which overlooks the cityscape.

I cannot really add anything of any value to this basic description, other than to say the film is worth experiencing. As a work of surrealistic cinema, the film rivals the best of Bunuel and Lynch. Wakamatsu's more explicitly political 1971 film The Ecstasy of the Angels is also playing as part of the series. The series continues until May 12th and the schedule is here.

No comments: