Friday, July 1, 2011

#295: Crazed Fruit

(Ko Nakahira, 1956)

Crazed Fruit is one of those rare films that crackles with an energy propelling it towards the future. Someone watched this movie and thought, "Things will never be the same." The film has a lurid sexual tone to match its characters' idle nihilism, but the movie shines because it chooses to depict this new world in such a brazenly straightforward manner. It makes the viewer come to it.

Centered around two brothers lounging at a vacation home with little to do but concern themselves with invented problems, the movie is reminiscent of other youthful stories like The Great Gatsby, Rebel Without a Cause, and Catcher in the Rye. But the film's plot - in which one brother falls in love with a seemingly innocent girl who turns out to be married and sexually promiscuous - is much more inherently controversial than those other works. Indeed, the film's reception indicated a divided critical base with half looking towards the coming cinematic revolution and half hopelessly struggling to maintain the status quo.

What is so impressive about Crazed Fruit is that it manages to feel fresh and edgy even as its position as a transition film is so evident. It's critics are so antiquated and embarrassing now, and yet the film still feels subversive and impressively infused with a shocking sexuality. Crazed Fruit might not be a truly great film, but it's persistently relevant and confrontational, demanding its vaunted position in Japanese film.

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