Mike D'Angelo
July 20, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Pornographers

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Shoichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto
director
Shohei Imamura
genre
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it a B

Japanese director Shohei Imamura retired following the completion of the arrestingly bizarre ”Dr. Akagi,” released last year; this 1966 B&W melodrama, The Pornographers, about an amateur smut peddler and the effect his vocation has on his adopted family, is proof that the filmmaker indulged a wack sensibility virtually from the get-go. Like his more recent work, it’s both visually striking and dramatically incoherent, a series of unforgettable images and gradually shifting moods rather than a traditional narrative. Those attracted to it for prurient reasons, however, will be sorely disappointed: Like all good films concerning pornography, it’s not about sex, but economics.

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