Thursday, October 18, 2012

RIP Wakamatsu Kouji

Revered Japanese filmmaker and shit-disturber Wakamatsu Kouji - whose excellent film on a fascinating chapter in the history of Japanese radicalism, United Red Army, made a fairly big impression here in the 2008 VIFF - was struck and killed by a taxi yesterday while walking in Tokyo. He was 76. I've only seen one other Wakamatsu film - his far sexier, jazzier, earlier take on the Red Army story, Ecstasy of the Angels (a very horny clip from it on Youtube, here; check out a bit of Yamashita Yousuke's powerhouse free jazz score for it here. By the way, some trivia fun for fans of J-noise: apparently Haino Keiji acted in some of Wakamatsu's films, which detail is nowhere yet captured on IMDB!). A recent interview with Wakamatsu is here; if all you know about the Japanese United Red Army is the vastly inaccurate (if colourful) depiction of their self-purge in Kichiku Dai Enkai, you owe it to yourself to check out Wakamatsu's infinitely more faithful telling of events from a few years back; it's out on DVD, three hours long, and both compelling and politically provocative, showing a young group of idealistic radicals, hell-bent on purifying their ranks, turning on each other and degenerating into a sort of madness. Includes the immortal line, "I criticise myself for eating a cookie!" A fascinating film.  

(Oh, and by the way, J-noisers, psych-drone gods Les Rallizes Denudes had connections to a Red Army faction, with their bassist, Wakabayashi Moriaki, participating in the hijacking of a JAL airliner to North Korea... Julian Cope writes about it, excerpted from the Japrocksampler, here).

Rest in peace, Wakamatsu-san.

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