With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, October 18, 2014

INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS at Japan Society NY

Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (c) 1967 KOKUEI
 Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands / Koya no Datch Waifu
Directed by Atsushi Yamatoya
Japan, 1967, 85 minutes
When: Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

Tonight at 7:00 PM, Atsushi Yamatoya’s Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands will kick off Japan Society NY's new monthly film series, The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema. (For Mike Hale's overview article at the New York Times, click here.)  Tonight's screening will be followed by a reception.

At an isolated spot, a hitman named Sho (Yuichi Minato) meets with Naka (Masayoshi Nogami), a rich real estate agent. Naka had a minor misunderstanding with someone that escalated into the kidnapping of Sae (Noriko Tatsumi), who worked in Naka's office, several months earlier. Sae has been raped by her kidnappers, and Naka shows Sho the film of her being violated that he was sent. Naka hires Sho to get Sae back.

This job reminds Sho of the kidnapping and murder of Rie (Mari Nagisa), his girl, five year earlier by a man named Koh. Sho has dreamed -- or is it hallucinated? -- about shooting Koh every day since then, always at 3:00, the time Rie died.

There's some campy hard-boiled dialogue, such as "Cheap girls are a dime a dozen" and "Get outta Dodge." The compositions within the frame can be rather unusual at times; for example, a face being partially cropped in the upper left corner of the frame. Personally I think these "choices" may have been dictated by the size of the available sets and lenses. In any case, these strange croppings can be  unsettling. The often hand held and shaky camera work also contributes to a sense of unease.

There are a number of sex scenes, with quick flashes of bare female breasts. The film also has a cool jazz score by pianist and composer Yosuke Yamashita that's reminiscent of some contemporary works by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

The film also brings to mind Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill , which was released a few months earlier in 1967. This is not surprising in that director Yamatoya was one of the uncredited writers on the script of  Suzuki’s film.

Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands  has been selected as one of "The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week" at The L Magazine.

Note that at IMDb the film is listed as Dutch Wife in the Desert, with Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands as an a.k.a.

AsianCineFest Rating: I'm going to have to go with a 3.5 out of 4 star rating; very highly recommended. For the film itself, I'd probably assign 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended. The extra 1/2 star is warranted because there simply aren't going to be many opportunities to see it, which makes tonight's screening a very special event. 

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