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In the Realm of Oshima

Saturday, July 11, 2009
6:30 p.m. Pleasures of the Flesh
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1965)

New Print


(Etsuraku). “She’s deaf and crazy, but isn’t she nice?” comments a character in Oshima’s frantic comedy of sex and money, which follows a buttoned-down college grad down a rabbit hole of prostitutes, pimps, extortionists, and pleasures both purchased and denied. The dull Wakizaki, recently spurned by his true love even though he has committed murder for her, finds himself entrusted with millions of dollars by an about-to-be-jailed embezzler. Unfortunately, all that cash might prove too much for a broken heart, and soon Wakizaki is blowing it tycoon-style on a series of prostitutes, each with her own set of problems and hangers-on. While inspired by the then-emerging “pink film” sex genre, Pleasures of the Flesh boasts a rapid-fire combination of sex, economics, and panic more comparable to the satires of Yasuzo Masumura. The film’s original title, Pleasures of the Coffin, provides a better insight into its infectious cynicism.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Oshima, based on a story by Futaro Yamada. Photographed by Akira Takada. With Katsuo Nakamura, Mariko Kaga, Yumiko Nogawa, Masako Yagi. (90 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)