for Cinetalk.net

Masao Adachi’s Gushing Prayer (Japanes title: Funshutsu kigan – 15-sai no baishunfu – 1971) is another hybrid take on the Pinky Eiga  (Japanese softcore) of the 1970’s. While being anchored in the era of its making, it is still fresh and fascinating.

15 Years old Yasuko surfs on the path of inner discovery (she is apparently well advanced on the subject of physical sexuality). Her body is basically unresponsive. An early pregnancy, brings adulthood at the gates with the lurking demon of natures conventions and society’s conformism knocking. Trying to figure out her body and the feeling of emptiness she observes, she tries to perceive, defy and possibly ‘defeat’ sex as we accept it. Yasuko questions its purpose, relevance as a possibly obsolete form.

Gushing Prayer attests of Adachi’s penchant for political stands and patent use of cinema as a weapon (he was an activist during the period and would join the Japanese Red Army in Lebanon three years later) whilst stepping into the contradicting world of exploitative sex cinema. However, Gushing Prayer should not be be considered as a conventional  (or simply as an) example of the Pinku genre. Adachi clearly has an agenda of his own and it comes with no surprise if the film is actually pretty limited on sex , in the steamy sense,  when compared to the whole genre, but full of leftists statements of ideals of the time. Several nods to Japanese new wave and leftists notions are his trade and we dive into this political Art propaganda.

Amid the political turmoil, and students uprising, of the period it’s related to, Adashi stays close to the works and concerns of other fellow director he penned films for like Kôji Wakamatsu and early Nagisa Oshima. He would even work on this film with Wakamatsu’s editor, Isamu Nakajima, and cinematographer, Hideo Itô, who does a great framing job. Itô, later on, shot Oshima’s celebrated In the Realm of the senses. While less fragmented, more straight forward, there is also nods of  Shūji Terayama’s Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971) released the same year.

Adashi puts Pinku to a different level, not at all preoccupied with fulfilling its requirements. It is a minimalist (tiny budget) Arthouse film, beautifully evocative and provocative. A conflicting, slightly self-indulgent and confine to its own duality,  piece with engaging assumption, by way of sex, toward conformism and – what else? – capitalism.

Gushing Prayer closes the short cycle dedicated to recently restored Pinku Eiga included in Montreal FNC’S Temps Ø program.

Screening:
Sunday October 14, 21:00 – Quartier Latin Cinema