Monday, December 19, 2005

PZ Myers Got Me to Watch Squidporn

I have a bit of a condundrum opening this post, because my wife provided two very good quotes during The Calamari Wrestler that sum up the experience quite completely.

One: “That’s the stupidest thing we’ve ever watched without fast forwarding.”
Two, upon hearing how I chose to add it to our Netflix list: “Fuckin’ PZ Myers.”

Now I'm going to guess that approximately 99.99% of you will never, ever watch The Calamari Wrestler, even if it were placed before you after you'd been literally tied up for a day, so I'm going to full explain the plot in the following paragraphs just so you don't feel tempted. Warning, spoilers do follow.

The Calamari Wrestler is a Japanese flick about Iwadi, a wrestler (the WWF kind) who faces a debilitating illness and chooses to hook up with several monks and a mysterious trainer who teach him proper meditation and the Ritual of the 365 Points (sitting under a big bell that’s rung 365 times - it's supposed to help you focus, but I can't imagine you can do anything but clear your mind with a big bell ringing around your head) so that he can leave behind his fragile human shell and become a man-sized squid, free of disease and pain. Once a squid, Iwadi returns to the ring to defeat his former wrestling pal Taguchi, who has since become a big wrestling star and claimed Iwadi’s girlfriend as his fiancee. Squid beats man, and Iwadi gets back his fame (albeit as a squid - but his wrestling moves make him readily recognizeable to the Japanese wrestling world) and his girlfriend. Strangely, most people accept a squid in the ring and the fact that he's just wandering around like anyone on the street and buying Japanese radishes and ice cream. He's particularly easy to accept if you grew up in a fishing village that harvested squid, or you sell them at your seafood stand.

There follows a bit of squidporn when Iwadi, as a squid, succumbs to temptation and sneaks up behind his girlfriend while she’s making dinner and begins his own little version of the ten-tentacled groping/spanking machine, which later moves into the bedroom. We don’t see any actual sex – it’s handled very tastefully, which is good, because her kissing his blownozzle later is revolting enough. Unfortunately, giving into temptation (he's only had sexy dreams up to that point) ruins Iwadi's meditative focus and he reverts to a man in much pain (and is forced to do the Ritual of 365 Points all over again while his girlfriend bemoans his fate).

Meanwhile, Taguchi takes his losses very seriously (although the wrestling loss is magnitudes worse than the loss of his fiancee) and, with the help of Calamari’s trainer, goes off to a mountain in Pakistan and learns meditation techniques to become….an octopus! A cephalopod battle in the ring follows, with Taguchi once again losing the match. He's not the wrestler Iwadi is as a man or as an octopus. You know it was a great fight when one of the announcers opines, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are not underwater, this is really happening…”

The plot thickens. A mysterious third wrestler appears and beats Calamari up in the street while he's out shopping with his fiancee. The Squilla, which looks like a crayfish/crawfish and which the dictionary defines as: “Any of various burrowing predatory marine crustaceans of the order Stomatopoda, having movable stalked eyes and a pair of jointed grasping appendages.” The Squilla is a kickass boxer with hands like shotguns. He's a serious threat to the Calamari Wrestler.

Taguchi, however, wants to defeat Calamari himself (even after losing as human and octopus) and shows Calamari footage of the Squilla to shock him into action. Beyond this bit of crustacean espionage, Taguchi agrees to help Calamari train. Next comes the Rocky-style training montage as the human-sized squid does “situps”, footwork exercises, ski machine/Nordic track exercises, and more, to get ready to fight the Squilla.

The fight with the Squilla goes disasterously at first for The Calamari wrestler, even when he tries a sneaky trick to get in the Squilla's blindspot by going beneath the ring, and the announcers are excited about the bone-breaking and the “inter-species” fighting (octopus v. squid is not interspecies according to the movie). The Squilla warns Calamari/Iwadi while pummeling him against the ropes dozens of times, “You’re not even calamari now, you’re nothing but sashimi”.

But once The Calamari Wrestler acknowledges to himself that he’s scared of the Squilla, he reverts to a man, Iwadi, once again - strangely free of his illness, and gives a brief lecture about why he loves wrestling. The fight continues for quite a while and includes a fist to fist punch, ala a Rocky poster, until finally Iwadi rips the arms off the Squilla who also becomes human, revealing himself to be Godozan, the premier wrestler of post-war Japan, the man who made Japan love itself again after its humiliating defeat, and….Iwadi’s father! and….Taguchi’s father! Violent slaps are exchanged, devolving into a giant hug where the Taguchi and Iwadi acknowledge they’re sons of the long time wrestling patron of their geisha mother.

As the movie closes, professional wrestling is revitalized (and saved from the corruption and cynicism of big money), the Japanese are ecstatic, and Iwadi and his girlfriend toss their new baby squid child up and down a few times in the setting sun.

There’s also a hoppin’ soundtrack at the end with a video that might horrify my sister. The singer isn’t singing in Japanese as it first sounds, but in English, and she repeats the phrases, “It’s justa feara so nice", "It's justa feara so good" "It's justa fear so right” and “That you were farring in ruv” a few dozen times. It would have been a fine song in Japanese, and the movie was subtitled, so I don't know what inspired her or the director to inject English phrases at semi-random intervals.

If you'd like to see the original posts about The Calamari Wrestler on Pharyngula or Shelly Powers' review, just follow the links.


Anonymous said...

Maybe could take on the shrimp man from Rocky Pont!

LissyJo said... you thought the movie sucked and you felt the need to waste my time by writing a synopsis? A multi-paragraphed synopsis? A synopsis that leads me to believe your first statements about how the movie sucked?

MNObserver said...

Congrats on being yesterday's "Blog of the Day" at the Blotter.

Scooter said...

Thanks, MO. Though I actually picked up far more hits because the squid link was noted over at Worth1000 as well.

LissyJo said...

Where on worth1000? I was wondering if you could be multiple days of blogger of the day at blotter....what an honor it must be.