ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
Tsukamoto's A Snake Of June (2002), repressed Asuka Kurosawa is
a phone-in counsellor. Unknown to her cleanliness-obsessive husband,
Yuji Kotari, Asuka has a libidinous side that comes out when she's
alone. For sex, she masturbates since the couple never sleep together.
One day Asuka
receives a package with a note, "secrets for your husband." Inside
is a set of photos of Asuka masturbating. Later she receives another
set of pictures of her snipping a skirt and turning it into a
mini-skirt; and a handphone. Soon, she receives a call. The stranger/stalker
seems not only to know Asuka's innermost feelings but is able
to photograph her as well. Anxious to get the negatives, Asuka
agrees to meet the stranger's demands - Asuka is to change into
the mini-skirt (minus underwear) at a train station and buys and
inserts a vibrator into herself after leaving the remote control
at a designated space.
to say, Asuka does get all shook up but she does get back her
negatives, save one. The stranger tries to engage Asuka in another
transaction but she ignores his approaches. However, the whole
episode has a certain liberating effect and Asuka soon starts
thinking about the stranger. It isn't long before she realises
that the stranger was one of the people who were contemplating
suicide that she was counselling. She also learns that he is dying
from cancer but then in the process of taking pictures of her,
he realises that she has breast cancer.
in the process, Asuka suggests one more trip to the station. She
changes into her mini-skirt and does the vibrator routine. Unlike
previously - in her uncertainty and perhaps shame - when she was
practically trying to sort of hide behind her umbrella, this time,
she confidently strides through the shopping mall, drawing admiring
looks, before stripping in an alleyway in the pouring rain and
photographed in sexual ecstasy by the stranger who is waiting
in a car.
Asuka, the entire incident is witnessed by husband Yuji. The stranger
contacts Yuji who admits he wants the photographs. After an encounter
where Yuji is beaten up by the stranger, Yuji rushes home and
the couple soon overcomes all inhibitions to have the kind of
sex they each want.
and violence is nothing new to Shinya Tsukamoto but A Snake In
June is very restrained for the director who gave the world Tetsuo
and the image of a man who has a gigantic drill for a penis.
In an interview,
Tsukamoto said: "The original idea I had was different from the
film as it is now. More violent, more pornographic and more immoral.
Over the years, elements from this idea found their way into the
other films I made... The first half of this film is quite tough
on the female character, but I didn't intend to make her miserable.
I wanted the heroine to be happy in the end. I don't know why
exactly, but when I look at my mother, who is part of a previous
generation in which a woman's situation was more weak and aimed
at supporting the man, I feel compassion for her and I get this
urge to be supportive to women."
As to the
title, A Snake In June, this is what Tsukamoto says: "Traditionally
the woman is virtuous, but during the rainy season their sexuality
is stimulated by the environment. You can sense this oozing feeling
inside, which is like the movements of a snake." What helps sell
the film is the strong performance by stage actress Asuka Kurosawa.
Even with her in the nude, one experiences the frustrated core
of her being rather than gawk at her.
notion of sex as a form of liberation is not new to cinema, Tsukamoto's
film gives the idea a rigorous work out. Within the relatively
short movie (77 minutes), the film, shot in blue-tinted monochrome,
starts off as a sex thriller but veers off before ending as a
psychological drama with a slight detour into "typical" Tsukamoto
territory - can't avoid those biomechanical tentacles.
games are deadly but Tsukamoto, who plays the stranger/stalker
and who has nourished this project for at least 15 years, seems
to find some catharsis himself as he notes: "Now that I've completed
this film, I feel that I probably won't explore this theme of
violence anymore in my future films. (With the exception of Tetsuo
in America.)" In a Tsukamoto film, sex can be brutal, is seldom
fun, but even the most repressed person can get something out
The A Snake Of June DVD (Tartan) is banned in $ingapore.