Following Desire

This 1972 feature is part of Facets Cinematheque's four-film retrospective on Japanese director Tatsumi Kumashiro, who turned out a series of dramatically ambitious porno movies for the floundering Nikkatsu studio in the 70s. Sayuri Ichijo, known as “queen of the Osaka strippers,” plays herself in a fictional story of backstage rivalry with a ruthless young competitor (think All About Eve with skin). The upstart (Hiroko Isayama) is a real operator whose various boyfriends are always carrying her stage trunk on their shoulders as they follow her around town; in the film's comic climax, the cops raid the theater and Hiroko hides in the trunk, which rolls down the street to the police station, where she pops out naked. Nikkatsu gave its filmmakers creative freedom as long as they kept to their meager budgets and included periodic sex scenes, and this offbeat farce integrates them better than one might expect (Ichijo's signature number, in which she masturbates while dripping candle wax on herself, is especially hot). In Japanese with subtitles. 70 min.

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