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Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura

Saturday, October 11, 1997
Yasuzo Masumura Japan, 1971

(Asobi). A young factory worker is picked up and courted by a clumsy youth with yakuza dreams, over one long day and a night. But in the fourteen years since Kisses, life and the cinema have become more violent for two virginal youths working on their cool. Play can become all too real. The seventeen-year-old heroine (Keiko Sekine) is about to give in to the demands of her family's poverty and become a bar hostess when she is dissuaded by her new friend (Masaaki Daimon). But he has an even more dangerous agenda for her. (The film contains several graphic scenes of yakuza sexual violence.) A flashback structure delineates the wretched, violent homes both youths are running from, toward a world that is far worse. A film of outrageous set pieces and overstated acting, Play nevertheless has realism in its sights.

• Written by Masayoshi Imako, Masahiro Ito, based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. Photographed by Setsuo Kobayashi. With Keiko Sekine, Masaaki Daimon, Asao Uchida, Keiko Matsuzaka. (90 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 'Scope, 35mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Daiei)