A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Song

Oshima hits his favorite topics-politics, sexuality, and transgression-in this embittered portrait of a youth culture whose visions of sex and rebellion are nothing more than dreams. Four provincial students (including singer Ichiro Araki, whose blank-slate calm earned him praise from Oshima as “the first New Wave actor”) are in Tokyo for final exams, but they learn more from a drunken professor who quotes “Love is the only form of resistance” to doe-eyed coeds (“I'd like to read Henry Miller,” sighs one). Dreaming of sexual exploits, they wander disillusioned across a politicized, sexually commodified landscape of Founder's Day marches, lurid red-light-district posters, and, in one hilariously odd sequence, mass rallies of folk singers and Christian revivalists. Constantly questioning, unable to fit in or channel their pent-up energies, it's no wonder their songs of protest and sex and their fantasies of rape and revolution lead nowhere. Shot in a CinemaScope pop palette similar to that of Three Resurrected Drunkards, this darkly ambiguous film has been compared to Godard's La Chinoise.

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