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March 2010

Lala pipo

cast: Tomoko Murakami, Hiroki Narimiya, Saori Hara, and Sayuki Matsumoto

director: Masayuki Miyano

93 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Third Window DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by Jim Steel

Lala pipo

The clue's in the title, Lala pipo means: 'a lot of people'. This ensemble sex comedy tries to pack far too much in and ends up being a crowded mess. There is little nudity here, so it sidesteps any prurient interest and concentrates instead on attitudes. There is much that is disturbing, but that's Masayuki Miyano's intention, and he initially has the viewer flip-flopping between wondering if the film is misogynistic or merely misanthropic. It's neither, but it's also about as deep as a puddle in July, which it attempts to mask through a hyper-inventive style that resembles nothing quite so much as an explosion in a sweet shop.

Hishori (Sarutoki Minagawa, looking like he's just failed an audition for Flight Of The Conchords) is a freelance writer with no sex life other than masturbation. Eventually his penis (played by a green, fuzzy muppet) tells him to get a grip of a different sort, so Hishori, no prize himself, eventually beds the weird-looking Sayuri (Tomoko Murakami).

The next day, disgusted with the situation, he punches her in the eye and leaves. However, he later decides to go back and see her, but she now has an eye-patch and another man in her room. The other man runs off and Hishori strangles the girl. Now it is Hishori's penis' turn to be disgusted and it leaves him, walking off into the distance. Weird, yes; pleasant, no...

Hishori's upstairs neighbour is, if anything, even more reprehensible. Kenji (Hiroki Narimiya) is handsome and charismatic and has a different girl in bed each night. Playing to their insecurities, he soon has them working as prostitutes and pornographic actress. And so it goes on. The other characters are not people many would wish to share a journey with, and happiness remains, as you can imagine, an elusive quality.

The plastic-and-neon urban landscape is fascinatingly detailed and Lala Pipo will succeed in holding your interest, but there is a feeling of wasted talent about the whole thing. It's like discovering a super-talented gymnast who can hold the lotus position while balancing upside-down on one hand, only for him to use this ability to fart in your face.

DVD extras on this release comprise of a making-of documentary and a set of interviews with the cast concerning their own sexual attitudes. Both lack the main feature's flair.



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