Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Yumiko Nogawa, Jo Shishido, Kayo Matsuo, Satoko Kasai, Tamiko Ishii, Misako Tominaga, Isao Tamagawa, Koji Wada, Keisuke Noro
Written by: Goro Tanada, based on the novel by Taijiro Tamura
Directed by: Seijun Suzuki
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 03/19/2013
IMDB

Gate of Flesh (1964)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

By Hooker by Crook

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The prolific Seijun Suzuki directed this eye-poppingly colorful story of the feral, backstabbing existence that cropped up just after World War II in Japan. The only way to make a living is on the black market or as a prostitute, as Maya (Yumiko Nogawa) soon learns. There are rules, however, above all: no one gets any for free. Maya and her three co-workers soon stake out a certain territory and defend it like a band of female street toughs. Their stronghold only weakens when they agree to let a renegade soldier, Shin Ibuki (Joe Shishido), stay with them after he has stabbed an American. Most of the picture takes place in the prostitutes' quarters, a half-bombed building with light pouring in at odd angles. Suzuki uses bold colors and dark shadows to frightening effect, highlighting the cross between lust, power and violence. Somehow, the director even establishes a sense of frankness with only a scant bit of nudity. It's an amazing film, and quite a bit different from the gangster stories Suzuki is known for.

DVD Details: The Criterion Collection has done a superb job with the film's color, widescreen transfer and English subtitles. Bonuses include a new interview with Suzuki (still making films today), a photo gallery and a trailer. And one of the world's greatest living film critics, Chuck Stephens, provides a liner notes essay.