Sex change in Exchange Students.
What I really like with big cities, such as Berlin, is the constant flow of cultural opportunities, mainstream and alternative; I think I’ve seen three productions each of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and Kafka’s Bericht für eine Akademie. Recently, the Institute for Film and Video Art had a little festival called Nippon 80s, during which they screened Japanese movies from the 1980s. I saw these three:
- 1982: Exchange Students (Tenkosei) by Obayashi Nobuhiko.
- 1980: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki (Sonezaki shinju) by Midori Kurisaki.
- 1982: Fall Guy (Kamata koshin-kyoku) by Kinji Fukasaku.
Exchange Students was a pretty fun high school comedy about a boy and a girl who through an accident happen to switch bodies with each other, which leads to a number of comical situations based on how we expect the two genders to act; the girl suddenly becomes brutal and coarse (since it’s really the boy but in the girl’s body), and the boy becomes shy and sensitive. And when they’re alone, they fight with each other since they’re anxious that the other one doesn’t taint their status in school, now that the other one is “acting” them.
Although we shouldn’t imagine that the gender roles are any laxer in Europe (they’re just a bit different), I think Japan is a great setting for this kind of comedy, since everything is much more visible there. For a Japanese girl, it’s a kind of ideal to stand in an insecure posture, looking down and giggling. Which the boy in this comedy constantly does after the body swap. Great acting!
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki was a kabuki drama acted out with puppets. The theatre was full. Nuff said!
Finally, Fall Guy was my favourite. A really sweet action comedy about a stunt man. See it if you get the chance! Here’s a picture from Fall Guy: