Monday, August 27, 2007

The Great Happiness Space

Way back in May, a friend of mine sent me an email asking me if I wanted to check out a class at the Anarchist Free University called 'Hell in Eros: Desire and Japanese Cinema'. Looking at the course website, I found I was familiar with some of the film makers featured in class (Takashi Miike, Nagisa Oshima, Kinji Fukasaku and Koji Wakamatsu) and unfamiliar with others (Kaneto Shinoda and Shuji Terayama). With my formal, communal experiences with Japanese cinema largely restricted to retrospectives at Cinematheque of critical favourites like Kurosawa, Ozu, Naurse and Immamura, I was interested to see how the work of these often maligned film makers would be investigated in class, given the course mandate to problematize the 'facile distinction' between the arthouse and the grindhouse.

So I and another friend headed on over, neither of us adequetly prepared for the screening that was to follow. The first film was Koji Wakamatsu's 'Go, Go, Second Time Virgin' and by the end of it the class was left, quite literally, speechless (for reasons I'm sure you're familiar with if you've seen the film). Subsequent screenings have been, if not as damaging (and I use that term reverentially, if that's at all possible), then certainly as interesting - Kinji Fukasaku's 'Black Lizard', Kaneto Shinoda's 'Onibaba', Takashi Miike's 'Audition', Nagisa Oshima's 'Diary of a Shinjuku Thief', Shuji Terayama's 'Throw Your Books Away, Rally in the Streets!', Masahiro Shindo's 'Double Suicide', and Jake Clennell's 'The Great Happiness Space: Diary of an Osaka Love Thief', among others.

After a healthy game of email tag, I managed to secure an interview with the instructor of the course, Ryan Mitchell, who reveals (among other things) what motivated him to launch the course, what 'Hell in Eros' actually means, and what Zizek and Lacan have to do with Japanese cinema. Class resumes in September and I appeal to all of you, as cinephiles and as students (who I am sure, come September, will realize what a drag formal education can be), to check out 'Hell in Eros' at the Anarchist Free University. The course website, with all the details related to class times and location, can be found here.

No comments: