Film

Film

by

A sprightly digital-video month in the life of cheerfully nefarious photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, Arakimentari serves as a slight introduction, a vicarious moist handshake, and many a shizzle-faced night with the artist whom one critic dubbed the Weegee of the Wedgie. Admittedly compulsive in both sex and shutterbuggery, Araki has long lived on the art-porn border, though this doc aims to show him as conversant in flowers, kitties, skies, and neorealist kids’ faces as he is with bondage, vulvae, and the Other Eight Holes. Still a bobbing imp at age 64, he’s very happy to oblige the American crew, at one point knocking their socks off by managing to edit two books while plying them with liquor, karaoke, and God knows what else in a Shinjuku bar. Arakimentari crams thousands of photos in, lingering just enough on the heartbreaking series that documented his wife’s life and death. Talking heads along the way—including fans Richard Kern, Björk, and Takeshi Kitano (who is suspicious of Araki’s seeming lack of art-related angst)—are generally sympathetic. Even the woman who dubs him “a monster” means it as a compliment. Uncritical as the movie is, it’s a pity no one’s hip to the possibility that he’s endlessly repeating his greatest work of the 1980s (e.g., Tokyo Lucky Hole).