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  • TBC
  • Comedy
  • 2009
  • 120 mins

Lala Pipo: A Lot Of People

Lala Pipo: A Lot Of People

Synopsis

It's all love, lust, losers and loneliness in these six interlinked tales of sexuality in Tokyo. Masayuki Miyano directs a screenplay by Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls, Memories Of Matsuko)

About

"There are only two types of people in this world."

Masayuki Miyano's feature debut opens with this reductive assertion from Kenji (Hiroki Narimiya) - although it's immediately undermined as we hear one character after another divide the globe's population into strikingly different categories (those who grovel and those who 'rise to the heights', those who have sex and those who merely watch, "trash that disrupt peace and superheroes that protect it", those who are loved and those who remain unloved, etc.). Even the film's title, Lala Pipo, derives from a Japanese speaker's misunderstanding of an American tourist's declaration (in English) that there are a 'lot of people' in Tokyo. There are indeed a million stories in the big city, and by telling six of the tawdrier ones, Miyano offers us a glimpse of humanity in all its blighted variety.

Kenji, for example, is a superficial, smooth-talking 'scout' for the sex industry, so inured to deception that it literally takes being hit head-on by a truck to make him realise the genuineness of his own feelings towards a client. Hiroshi (Sarutoki Minagawa) is an overweight voyeur so removed from everyday human contact that his only conversations are with his own penis (presented as a talking green puppet), and his only response to real affection is self-loathing violence.

To escape her hellish home life, shy young department store worker Tomoko (Yuri Nakamura) is game to try anything - hostess bar work, erotic massage, hardcore porn - just so long as she doesn't have to talk to her clients.

Meanwhile, Koichi (Yoshiyuka Morishita) is so sexually repressed and socially alienated that he imagines himself to be literally from another planet, complete with home-made heroic costume and ithyphallic codpiece. Yoshie (Mari Hamada) is a 'mature' housewife whose need for love has led her to niche porn and whose disturbed domestic situation has driven her to extreme action. Last but not least, fat girl Sayuri (Tomoko Murakami) has found a way to turn her somewhat shabby sex life to profit.

Lala Pipo ought to be a sparky sex comedy about the erotic lives of an extended circle(-jerk) of Tokyo oddballs - but no amount of merrily lurid colours, surreal CG interventions or upbeat J-pop tunes can quite conceal the sadness and desperation inherent in these interwoven tales of lovelessness, loss and loneliness. The film has been adapted from the 2008 novel by Hideo Okuda, and viewers who know their Japanese cinema will easily spot the hand of Tetsuya Nakashima (best known for directing Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Matsuko) in the screenplay, not least because the character of Yoshie - a neglected, lovelorn baglady with links to the sex industry - comes so close to Nakashima's own Matsuko. Perhaps there are not so many types of people in the world after all.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Yuri Nakamura, Tomoko Murakami, Sarutoki Minagawa, Mari Hamada, Saori Hara, Hiroki Narimya, Yoshiyuke Morishita
  • Director: Masayuki Miyano
  • Screen Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima
  • Writer (Book): Hideo Tetsuya
  • Producer: Yuji Ishida, Ichiyo Sato
  • Composer: Tarantula Orchestra

In a nutshell

This erotic comedy is a Tokyo Story (or six) about urban alienation - although Ozu never thought to include a talking penis in his oeuvre. Masayuki Miyano's debut may be flashily outrageous and upbeat, but its laughs are rooted in the misery of modern humanity.

by Anton Bitel

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