Youth in Fury /Dry Lake

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The youth in Shinoda’s first feature, “One-Way Ticket to Love,” were quite hesitant, not the brazen youths of Ôshima’s first films. The nihilist student protagonist of the second Shinoda one, “Kawaita mizuumi” (Dry Lake, 1960, known to Criterion/Hulu as “Youth in Fury”), Takua (Mikami Shin’ichirô) has connections both to a university leftist group working to oppose the US/Japan Security Treaty and to apolitical and amoral young hedonists. The wall above his bed is covered with pictures, mostly TIME covers, of a range of political leaders (FDR, Churchill, Eisenhower, Tojo, and, most often and most prominently Hitler). Takuya seems too much a loner to strive to be a fuhrer, and with no particular stimulus, decides that revolution in Japan is hopeless. Much as the Japanese student movement did a decade later, he opts for a terrorist strategy (or tactic?). He declares that he has no time for women, which should constitute a public service, though his manipulative rich friend Kihara Michihiko (Yamashita Junichiro) treats women even worse than he does.

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Meanwhile, the female protagonist, Kastsura Yôko, flounders, trying to get a job so she can cease being supported by Oseto, the corrupt government official who was protected by Yôko’s father’s suicide and is being supplied with sex by Tîoko’s older sister, Oseto (the slimy Itô Yûnosuke), whose fiancé breaks off the engagment so as not to marry someone from a disgtraced family. Mikami lacked the charisma of Oshima’s young nihilist star Kawazu Yûsuke, though both brooded a lot and were cruel to women.

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Perhaps with so much melodrama added to the failed opposition to the US/Japan Security Treaty, “Dry Lake” is not as boring as Ôshima’s despairing portraits in “Night and Fog in Japan” (1960) and “Sing a Song of Sex” (1965).

The color cinematography was supervised by Shinoda’s longtime right-hand-man, Kosugi Masao and contains an early, dissonant musical score by Takemitsu Tôru

 

 

©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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