Director’s subversion shown in all its glory

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Director’s subversion shown in all its glory

Japan’s rebellious youth had nowhere to go in the 1980s, as the fierce student activism of the 1960s and 1970s was dying out. The only place they felt at home was at film studios that specialized in mass production of pornography.
Pornography, dubbed roman porno, was in much demand. Roman porno differed from regular pornography in that it incorporated drama. Studios did not care about whether the director wannabes were left-wingers or college dropouts. All that mattered was that the film filled its quota of sex scenes.
This freedom attracted many young people to the film scene, who later became acclaimed directors. Once they got the sex out of the way, young directors expressed their rebellion in the movies.
Kurosawa Kiyoshi is one such director whose debut was a roman porno. Since then, he has enjoyed a prolific career, whose lengthy filmography is faithfully covered in a retrospective starting Tuesday at Seoul Art Cinema. Out of 21 films, 13 are subtitled in English and in Korean, according to Seoul Cinematheque, the organizer.
Mr. Kurosawa made his debut with a roman porno, “Kandagawa Wars,” about two high school girls’ war with a middle-aged neighbor who is sleeping with her son.
Mr. Kurosawa soon earned a reputation as a revolutionary director. After moving on to horror and action films and drawing a cult following, Mr. Kurosawa found himself in the limelight of international film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin.
Among the retrospective films that are subtitled in English, six movies of the “Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself” series, made from 1995 to 1996, are especially worth seeing.
Another series, “The Revenge” (1997), is classic hard-boiled action, the genre most favored by the director. His more recent works such as “Seance” (2001), a typical Kurosawa horror, creates fear without old-fashioned ghosts or serial killers.
Mr. Kurosawa will be attending the retrospective Tuesday. The retrospective runs until March 19.

by Chun Su-jin

Tickets are 6,000 won ($5) for each screening. Seoul Art Cinema is best reached by taking subway line No. 3 to Anguk Station, exit No. 1. For more information, call (02) 745-3316 or visit
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