Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, The

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 07/18/06 00:01:06

"I'm not sure whether this is artsy porn or porny art."
3 stars (Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2006 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: Usually, if someone claims to admire the perversity of a skin flick, they mean it in a different way than the statement applies to "The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai". Of course, the standard definition works too, but let's face it, as a piece of soft-core pornography, what's remarkable about about this movie is just how unconcerned it is with getting its audience off.

We start with prostitute Sachiko playing a game of tutor-and-student with a client. She goes to the wrong café (in more ways than one) to meet her "boss"; instead of her pimp, she runs into a black-market sale gone bad, winding up with the disputed merchandise in her purse and a bullet hole in her forehead. This somehow leaves her brain supercharged (as opposed to hamburger), and she's soon become a philosophy professor's live-in mistress - they debate Chomsky during intercourse - and, as far as his wife is concerned, their son's tutor. It would be idyllic (though strange) except that the man who shot her wants what she has - a finger cloned from George W. Bush that can be used to launch a nuclear strike.

When director Mitsaru Meike took the job, he was probably given a to-do list with items like "2 ejaculations, at least twenty-five minutes of bare breasts, five panty peeks, symbolic penetration" on it. And he hits every one, though often in a perfunctory of self-mocking manner. Granted, the women in these movies get horny before the proverbial dropped hat hits the floor, but seldom when discussing Susan Sontag or Friedrich Neitzche. There's also something not quite satirical or ironic, but at least amusing, about how Sachiko's method of tutoring mirrors the role-playing session that opened the film.

The stuff in between the sex scenes winds up overshadowing them, and not just the excuses found to stick Bush's finger into some hole, or something into Sachiko's wound to simulate penetration in a country where showing genitalia is apparently verboten. The bullet in Sachiko's brain allows her to get premonitions but also apparently puts her sense of taste on time-delay, so she sucks down oversweetened tea or too-spicy food and complains about its blandness before the effect hits her. The man who shot her makes himself at home in her apartment, waiting for her to return. The finger levitates and speaks to her in the form of a stock photo whose lips move Clutch Cargo-style. Stock footage is also used for the bridge of a U.S. nuclear submarine, with 12-inch G.I. Joe figures moving back and forth indicating the panicked crew (no way there's money in this film's budget for an elaborate set that's used for one scene in which no-one gets naked).

This is probably not what star Emi Kuroda thought she was signing up for, but she handles what Meike and writer Takao Nakano throw at her with aplomb, for the most part. There's a delight in learning (even beyond the arousal) that appears on her face whether she's reading advanced philosophy or discovering that the sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich, and just because she's smart, she doesn't stop acting like a dizzy floozy. It's not a great performance, but it's probably more than could be expected.

Meike is clearly trying to make some sort of point with all this, but I'm not exactly clear on what - Bush's power is available to the highest bidder and in the hands of people unqualified to wield it? Intellectualism and philosophy as the equivalent of porn and masturbation? Something else? I don't know. It skips around and ends oddly and abruptly. I imagine it must have been simultaneously more confusing and straightforward (half the story cut out, but sticking to the sex) in its previous incarnation as Horny Home Tutor: Teacher's Love Juice.

That's right, the director's cut of a film previously known as "Horny Home Tutor: Teacher's Love Juice" is playing festivals and art houses. That may be the funniest, strangest part of all.

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