Saturday, September 01, 2007

Love in the champagne room?

I have rarely sat in front of my PC and watched a full-length feature film, but I recently came across a link to The Great Happiness Space and was riveted to the screen by a world I never knew existed. The movie explores the phenomenon of Japan's host bars, where young women with money to burn go to party and flirt with suave male hosts skilled at separating them from their cash. There is really no analogue to this bar scene in the west but some aspects recall American strip clubs: the hosts' uncanny ability to wring currency out of customers, deluded patrons who keep going back in hopes of real romance, and the unspoken promises contained in a bottle of grossly overpriced champagne. The hosts are charismatic seducers who live and die by their charm. The most successful are undeterred by the moral dilemmas of the job and can earn the equivalent of $50,000 a month. The women who pay for their company are even more fascinating and surprising.

The 2006 documentary can be viewed it in its entirety here. It is also out on DVD and available from Netflix.

Listening to: M.I.A. - Boyz