Bizarre compendium of polemic, sexual farce and documentary, "8 1 5" is an attempt to paint Japan as having had a gradual loss of identity since its WWII defeat, on Aug. 15, 1945. (That's where the math comes from.) Broad concept yields a few satirical moments, but indiscriminate sensibility make this a grueling slog for all but the most committed fans of Nippon history.

Bizarre compendium of polemic, sexual farce and documentary, “8 1 5″ is an attempt to paint Japan as having had a gradual loss of identity since its WWII defeat, on Aug. 15, 1945. (That’s where the math comes from.) Broad concept yields a few satirical moments, but indiscriminate sensibility and cheapo execution make this a grueling slog for all but the most committed fans of Nippon history.

Stifled individuality, ethnic chauvinism, right-wing recidivists and archaic modes of masculinity come in for a kicking from helmer Shoichi Chugoku, who jumps, without apology or much technique, from genre sendups to gay porn to taking-head interviews and even momentum-stopping travelogues, as when crew follows a rather inarticulate young Korean-Japanese woman on a journey to find her Seoul-sprung roots. In keeping with its overblown conceits, wildly uneven, sometimes poorly recorded pic has a built-in intermission just over eight minutes long.

8 1 5

Japan

Production

A Tofu Films production. (International sales: Image Forum, Tokyo.) Produced by Jo Taifu, Shoichi Chugoku. Directed, written by Shoichi Chugoku.

Crew

Camera (color, mini-DV); editor, Shinichi Matsumoto; music, Brian Koan. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons & Tigers), Oct. 2, 2003. Running time: 140 MIN

With

Masanori Kikuzawa, Setsu Kawano, Yuu Teshima, Shoichi Chugoku.
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