Sunday, August 29, 2010

[Japanese Film Festival] Lala Pipo: A Lot of People (Lalapipo)

Toward a Greater Future!

It sure is a lala pipo (a lot of people) in this film, and it is this kaleidoscope of quirky characters that makes it a winner with its comedy. The opening cheekily deals with those who have, and the have nots, where the ying-yang opposites clash, and in this film presents characters on opposite sides of the spectrum of those who get to exercise their desires, and those who struggle in much desperate, mirth inducing fashion where different points of view get put across.

And it is the characters that make this a fun romp. We have Hiroshi (Sarutoki Minagawa) the freelance writer, whose physical size makes him the butt of the jokes in the first act, having no luck and quite down and out in the love department. He pleasures himself so often that he begins to hallucinate that his bro down below morphs into a cynical, sarcastic furry green puppet, who pops up every now and then to pass a remark or two, and complaint about being touched too often. I think this arc got the most laughs, whether politically correct, or not!

Then we have the flower of the story, Tomoko (Yuri Nakamura) who goes from office lady to progress into various levels of the adult entertainment industry, starting from the relatively benign karaoke bars, to private bars that require the exercise of hands and mouths, before ultimately making her debut as an adult video star. Perhaps it is this arc that is pretty compelling to watch, as an innocent girl unknowingly becomes smitten with her pimp-boyfriend that she willingly enters the industry, but hey, the money's really obscene to begin with.

Tying very closely to her it that of her pimp/scout Kenji (Hiroki Narimiya), who is constantly on the prowl for fresh meat. After all, he gets a first hand cut at all the perks and not to mention the commissions for every assignment that he progresses his recruit into. With his charismatic smile and non-threatening demeanour, it's really no wonder how many are taken into such modus operandi, through the provision of that emotional attachment, before it becomes all purely business. But of course this is someone with a heart of gold as it turns out, and comedy comes in large doses when he's assigned a matured AV star (Mari Hamada) to manage, who comes with a little twist in the story as well in bringing along her emotional baggage.

There are other characters and subplots which pad the film aside from these main characters, such as a k-box employee who's quite the delusional chap and imagines himself to be Captain Bonita (complete with, erm, large phallic protection and a suspiciously familiar looking mothership rivaling that from Austin Powers) whose mission is to save the world from smut that's even infecting him, and a chubby AV actress (Tomoko Murakami) who's actually quite the shrewd lady in know what she wants, and how to get her objectives fulfilled.

Ultimately, Lalapipo is just that, about people, whose lives all intertwine in ways you may deem too coincidental and befitting of only a film, but frankly, you'd never know how serendipitous things can actually be. It also provided quite the holistic, though comedic look at the entire adult industry in Japan and its pop and cultural influences on people and their attitudes toward it. It's light-hearted, yet if you sit back and think about it, it's almost a means to an end for most of these characters with a dream to fulfill, and perhaps a reflection of ours as well, be it for love, acceptance, or even a career.

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