Friday, March 16, 2018

Late-Teen Yakuza

Rue Teens!

(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Arrow Blu-ray as included in the boxset Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years: Vol. 1: Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies.)


Late-Teen Yakuza [High-teen yakuza, 1962 — aka Teenage Yakuza] unfolds upon images of construction vehicles clearing out rocks and soil dumped over ridges. For, this movie is jazz, goddammit, not your ersatz pre-Beatle rock-'n-roll: the benefitting kids want only Art Farmer, Louis Armstrong, and Don Elliott!, can't you see!, like any other Anglo brand hung on a peg! "Robin Coffee Brought to You by Chimoto," the franchise café the mother of schoolboy Jirō (Tamio Kawachi) is opening up in tandem with the expansion of this extra-Tokyo growth in small-business economic rise-of-promise: a playset for shrewd Suzuki four years before Godard's more cosmologically cogent focus on the Paris banlieues in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her [2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle, 1966]. Sprinkle their faces with sea-salt or not — the shots are all diurnal! Aside from the brilliant framings and sets, a terribly ugly film... the bastard bleaching sunlight... it exposes the cowards and conformists that Jirō defends against and the extortionist delinquents he ATTACKS! in fending off this multi-block plot for which the owners thought they were signing up in solace to hunker over in perpetuity on the heels of the war...

Fictional teens cry and hiccup for the power to loaf! They might extort protection money from the conformist-cowards who took out business-loans, but Jirō comes round to offer real protection kicking the would-be-yakuzas' asses all over the curbs, arm-blocking every ridiculous haymaker-right-hook before he socks them impermanently to the dust.

Two beautiful details, that most present-day directors are incapable of equaling in their films:

(1) A cop manning a one-man-barracks, whose wife and toddler are visiting during Jirō and his buddy Yoshio's (Toshio Sugiyama) questioning. After the cop dismisses the two to go home, maybe half-an-hour later in the film, the next time we return to him (because films and scenarios work at the power of twice, not three-times), he's dandling his toddler solo near the plants before the keisatsu bungalow. And:

(2) Kazuko (Midori Tashiro) speeds into her father's udon/soba shop to make a plea, and like a pied-piper, the most popular girl in town because maybe the shittiest, all her friends follow her and clog up the windows in the background to gawk.

Late-Teen Yakuza is a beautiful and short (1 hour 12 minute) movie, and I only wish it might have ended differently: with Yoshio having already been crippled in the leg, and Jirō having suffered a similar maiming from a blade in the same spot — my wish, my wish... is that when they reconcile and pedal bicycles together during the final shot ————— both might only operate the pedals with their left feet and their right legs dangling numb off the frames...


More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]


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