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MRQE Top Critic

Beauty and the Beast

Diamond edition adds to a top-notch film —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Beauty and the Beast fall for each other

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Before director Kazou Hara made The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, he made Extreme Private Eros Love Song 1974. It would be 13 years before he made another film. Extreme Private Eros is an exhausting film to watch, and it must have been murder to make. It is a wonder that Hara ever made another one.

Different Drummer

Extreme Private Eros follows Hara’s ex-wife Miyuki Takeda through the performance piece she was making of her life. Before the film is done Hara will have filmed her having a break-up argument with her girlfriend, having (presumably) sex with (presumably) Hara, having sex with an American Serviceman, having that man’s child unassisted on Hara’s apartment floor, starting a day-care center for prostitutes and bar girls, and she ends the film by being a stripper... whew. Miyuki is a good match for Hara’s take-no-prisoners style of film making. She, like Okuzaki Kenzo the subject of Hara’s Emperor’s Naked Army, is a contrarian of the first order. She doesn’t just march to a different drummer but seeks out the normal social cadence and goes against it. Thus she treads the fine line between free-sprit radical revolutionary and simple pain in the ass. But I will tip my hat to the courage of her convictions. She’s one tough cookie.

For instance, it’s not just that she intentionally sets out to have a child by an American soldier, it has to be a black American soldier, as apparently that racial mixture will be even more despised than a white/Japanese child would be. Indeed when Miyuki calls her mother to tell her about the baby and that the child is ‘mixed-race’, the mom opines that it would have been better if it were dead. What the child can expect from life as part of her social engineering isn’t said.

Hara and The Muse

It is Hara’s style to not critique Miyuki’s actions, but to keep the camera rolling and play it as it lies. And yet even she can trump him. Like when she is giving birth on his apartment floor, Hara is so distracted that, at the critical moment, the camera is knocked out of focus. And this after what seems like hours of in-focus grunting and straining. Isn’t that always the way it happens? It’s enough to make you feel sorry for Hara, or Miyuki.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to call Miyuki Hara’s muse. I see a similarity to the relationship between Charles and Robert Crumb, as seen in Crumb, Terry Zwigoff’s 1994 documentary of underground cartoonist R. Crumb. Without Charles’ mad genius, I don’t think that Robert would have developed the way that he did.

Miyuki is an extreme in-your-face kind of person who doesn’t compromise and doesn’t back down. Those are both characteristics you’ll find in Hara’s films. Did he learn from her, or was it a case of like-minded personalities finding each other? After the two were divorced, Hara was compelled to follow Miyuki around with his camera like a moth to a flame. Hara isn’t stalking Miyuki. Instead she seems to be leading him on with her ‘if you think that was weird, watch this’ life style.

Film Criticism

The production values of this film are (to be generous) poor, but in a way that seems to fit in with the overall disjointed and ill-tempered subject. If we are going to swim against the current, we might as well go all the way. The sound is out of sync and occasionally not even part of the scene, yet it all seems to make a sort of irritating sense. You have to wonder if Hara is cutting so close to the bone that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be objective. And in a way, we seem to be sharing his pain.

Extreme Private Eros Love Song 1974 is a case of one loose cannon following another. And to me, it’s that convergence of oddballs that makes this film worth watching.

Picture and Sound

As noted above, both the picture and sound are one big rough cut. It’s a wild and choppy ride.

How to Use this DVD

Insert disc, sit down and hang on. Viewers prone to discomfort at the sound of fingernails on blackboards should refrain from using.