Gutbrain Records

Thursday, 05 July 2007

Hi, Sheila!

The other day I watched a movie which was almost exactly the same as The World, The Flesh and The Devil except that it was good. It was a New Zealand movie from 1985 called The Quiet Earth. It swept the New Zealand Academy Awards that year, winning Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Actor and a couple others. Of course, I have no idea what its competition was that year, but The Quiet Earth is pretty good.

In The World, The Flesh and The Devil, which starred Harry Belafonte, there appeared to be only three people left on the planet after World War 3, a man and a woman of one race and another man of another race. The screenplay was probably supposed to find drama and excitement in the sexual and racial tensions such a situation could create. I found myself hoping a fourth survivor would come along and kill all three of these idiots.

The Quiet Earth is remarkably similar — same number of survivors, same racial and sexual tensions — but it's actually intelligent, interesting and entertaining. It's a little similar to M. P. Shiel's classic The Purple Cloud but is based on a novel by somebody named Craig Harrison. Both stories begin with a lone survivor who goes kind of nuts, fancies himself a kind of god and enjoys some wanton acts of destruction. In one memorable scene in The Quiet Earth, he puts on a police uniform and walks the downtown streets in pouring rain while playing the saxophone.

Alice and I saw Kenta Fukasaku's Sukeban Deka: Kodo nemu = Asamiya Saki (Delinquent Girl Cop: Code Name = Asamiya Saki) yesterday. It was shown as part of the New York Asian Film Festival under the title Yo-Yo Girl Cop. I thought it was terrible. I love the premise: high-school girls are undercover crimefighters with super-powered yo-yos. In the '80s Sukeban Deka was a TV series, manga, anime and at least two live-action movies in Japan. I think a new and good movie version of this premise could be made rather easily but this sure wasn't it.

I haven't seen anything else by Kenta Fukasaku — Kinji Fukasaku's son — but on the basis of his Sukeban Deka movie I would say he has one of the worst visual styles of any director working today. It makes Tony Scott's Domino look almost good. The "plot" was something like "We think something bad is going to happen in 3 days. Find out what it is and stop it." (I guess 24 is popular in Japan, too.) Okay, you don't need much of a plot for this movie, but you do need to keep things moving. Sukeban Deka: Kodo nemu = Asamiya Saki was scandalously light on action. In fact, I would say that the movie poster is more exciting than anything in the movie itself.