Origins of Japanese Experimental Cinema (Pleasure Dome) Rating: NNNN
For viewers who would object to a filmmaker breaking the taboo against the portrayal of pre-pubescent boys having sex with adult women dressed as scary mannequins, a warning: parts of this retrospective of Japanese experimental films might not be for you. If you can get past the sensation-mongering scenes in Shuji Teruyama's legendary Emperor Tomato Ketchup, though, you will be richly rewarded.
This program of hard-to-find films from the past four decades deftly hooks up the sensual and the cerebral. In the former category, there's a special emphasis on the fragility and mutability of the human body, ranging from Burning Star, Kenji Onishi's reflection on what happens after a loved one's death, to Flesh, Tachibana Karou's fascinated look at a woolly bodybuilder.
On the abstract end of the scale, there's Junichi Okuyama's pleasingly synaesthetic short, My Movie Melodies, in which we learn what the grain on a block of wood sounds like, and Takashi Ito's eye-popping, mind-bending, potentially seizure-inducing animation, Spacey. Is it a meditation on infinity? An experiment in geometry? A vision of hell? Curator Ian Toews will be present to elucidate. (January 23, Cinecycle)