Carnival in the Night (1981)
Directed by Masashi Yamamoto
Carnival in the Night, according to scholar Yoshiharu Tezuka, was one of the first independent, post-studio films to travel the festival circuit, paving the way for future self-financed filmmakers making 8mm and 16mm movies. In 1983, Carnival played at Cannes, Berlin, and the Montreal International Film Festival.
From mundane day to depraved night, Masashi Yamamoto’s film exposes Shinjuku, Tokyo as a festering wound of social turpitude. Shot on 16mm, and switching from drained color to phantasmal black-and-white once night falls, this zero-budget punk film drifts along from scene to scene. Carnival features musicians (Akemi Edo of Jagatara and Michirô Endô of The Stalin) playing versions of themselves in a thin narrative about a woman who leaves her child with her ex-husband, dons leather, and undergoes a nocturnal odyssey where she picks up and rapes a John in a park, talks to a man plotting to bomb Tokyo, and dances to the sweet sounds of Rod’s disco funk classic “Shake It Up” in a stunning five-minute sequence. Tokyo is shook up. Tanner Tafelski (November 11, 15, 10pm; November 30, 7:30pm at the Spectacle)