Crazed Fruit Ko Nakahira

This is not the Carmen Miranda story at all but an unflinching look at Japanese youth gone wild in the seminal kick-off to the "sun tribe" genre. Two brothers are away for a summer of cheap thrills and nihilism; they're young, affluent and unaffected by those pesky outdated values of their parents. In between bouts of then-shocking dialogue and other lurid goings-on, the two fall for the same girl, a devious Jezebel who's actually married to a much older gaijin and has even fewer scruples than the boys. It goes without saying that nothing good can come from this, but such are the wages of the sun tribe. Ko Nakahira's sophomore effort actually made many more waves than that sinsational synopsis would suggest, shattering the staid image of Japanese bourgeois youth and having a ripple effect that stretched to the immanent new wave of Oshima and company. And though it's more interesting as a social document than as a piece of filmmaking, it's still plenty fascinating. Unlike the delinquent youth of American films, there's no social-worker/psychologist/lawman placing you within the proper context. Instead, the film chooses to drop you into the thrilling and/or horrifying world of selfish promiscuous young 'uns with too much money and not enough conscience. These youth are not "misunderstood." they're hedonists and proud to be there. It's a defining moment in Japanese cultural history and is worth the look to see the beginning of the downward slope from Ozu to Battle Royale. The film is backed up with a superb commentary by leading Japan scholar Donald Richie, who provides all sorts of insight into the "novel for the time" aesthetics and values, and a 16-page booklet with terrific essays on both the film itself and the short-lived sun tribe genre in general. (Criterion/Morningstar)