Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Topic in the works. This post to be updated
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Post by HungFist »

Quoting my Hiff 2008 report

As I suspected, Shinji Imaoka, a man of few words, was attending the screening of his semi-recent pink fare Uncle’s Paradise (2006). Imaoka clearly possesses audio-visual skills, and some single scenes of pure insanity make comparisons to the works of Takashi Miike and Teruo Ishii seem at least half-justified. There is – to quote a reviewer whose name I’ve forgotten – enough sex to put the main character into grave, but the film is humoristic and blessed with a sympathetic cast. The storyline follows and elderly man who’s too afraid of his horrible nightmares to sleep, and only finds consolation in over-use of vitamins, and occasional erotic adventures, mostly provided by his fisherman nephew’s cute girlfriend.

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Unfortunately I couldn't find time to see Imaoka's Tasogare, which was also playing on the fest. Schilling gave it a very positive reviews, saying ”Calling it good for a pink film is like calling Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story) good for a home drama: though hardly a worldwide classic, it transcends its genre.” Also somewhat interesting looks Frog Song, which seems maybe even more of an indie drama than pink film. I'd love to see Imaoka doing a non-pink film, because he certainly has the talent...

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NO LOVE JUICE: RUSTLING IN BED (Japan, 1999)
If you wanna shoot a modern day Pinku Eiga, this is how you do it: "No Love Juice" has been screened on 35mm at the Nippon-Connection and considering that I only attended because I wanted to skip some free time until another event I was looking forward to, it's actually quite fun. The story is very basic, though, it just tells about the (sexual) relationship between an elder female office-worker and a young student who get to know each other, as one night they both miss their cue to get off the train. The actors are terrific, both very attractive, the leading lady one sizzling hottie, actually. The movie mainly consists of one sex-scene after another, but the script surprisingly succeeds to insert as much characterization and interpersonal tension while they're at it. Due to some great camerawork and lots of sexy angles "No Love Juice" doesn't get boring for a second. Some rather edgy, yet consensual perversions are included, as well. In the end watching "No Love Juice" almost feels like watching a porn-flick (without ever becoming gynaecological, of course), but with genuine emotion and sensualism, beautiful cinematography, comprehensible drama, convincing acting and a great ending.
Last edited by diceman on 29 Apr 2009, 17:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Modern Japanese Exploitation Thread

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New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave (Dorei) (2007)

Japanese pink cinema auteurs can be roughly divided into two categories. One consists of talentless studio workers that direct soft erotica because they can't do anything else. In the other group there are gifted directors that either use the genre as springboard to mainstream success (Japan's movie history is full of famous examples from Death Note director Shusuke Kaneko to Academy Award winner Yojiro Takita) or have decided to stick with the genre because of the artistic freedom it provides. There are late 90's Takashi Miike type of director's working in the pink film industry, as well as arthouse drama directors. Judging by New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave, Osamu Sato might come closer to the second category. Thematically similar but storywise unrelated to Ryu Murakami's powerful 1992 film Tokyo Decadence, Sato's movie is a character driven drama about a young woman who's into masochism, and how it affects on her life and relationships all around.

Approximately of the movie consists of "erotic scenes", but it's mostly justified as many of them are more about characterization than anything else. Osamu applies different visual styles to different parts of the film, giving some sequences a faded videotape look that goes in hand to hand with the characters' feelings. But the director, screenwriter (or possibly editor) and leading actress all come slightly short in terms of talent. The story moves a bit too fast and the cinematography comes with more good ideas than understanding for how to realize them in most effective manner. The film is based on main actress Rinako Hirasawa's own experiences. Her acting isn't entirely bad, but like the rest of the film, lacks detail. New Tokyo Decadence is an interesting film, but it doesn't quite live up to the potential it shows.

Pink Eiga's dvd is not anamorphic but looks good. English subtitles are burnt in. Extras consist of bonus trailers, photo gallery, and cast and crew biographies.

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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Tokyo X Erotica (2001)

Sex, Tiananmen Massacre, Human rabbits, Tokyo Subway attack, Superman. God, life, sex, death, birth. Takahisa Zeze’s avant garde pink film is a complete crossfire. It was Zeze's first film shot on digital, with results ranging from appallingly ugly to breathtakingly spot on. Content follows similar path. It goes from criminally dull and zero-worth pink dirtie to the most jaw droppingly beautiful punk-movie. The film's first 35 minutes are nearly unbearable. Then it gets considerably better. The ending is pure perfection. Life, youth, and indie cinema spirit defined. It's one the greatest 5 minutes in ever shot by anyone anywhere, period! How many people is Takahisa Zeze exactly?

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Screens from AWE (Another World Entertainment) DVD. 1.33:1 original aspect ratio.
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Blind Love (2005)

Japan cinematic strashyard, the pink cinema, keeps producting unexpected small gems that by no logic should even be there. Blind Love is a romantic comedy. The most charmingly cute one in ages. The storyline follows blind girl who falls in love with a ventriloquist – and his partner, as she mistakes the two men as one. With the voice and body of her love inretest belonging to two different people, the men have to stick together throughout the romance and pretend they are one.

Being a pink production, there is an abundance of sex of course, some serving no purpose but to please the producers and bore audiences. Usually these acts are performed by the supporting cast. The sex scene involving the blind Hikari, however, is genuinely sweet and hearwarming, no doubt one of the cutest sex scenes to ever appear in pink cinema. While the storyline has its more conventional moments and twists, the film really redeems itself with strong screenplay, good spirited humor, and excellent characters.

For those open minded audiences who don’t see sex as the Satan’s filth, Blind Love pretty much deserves full recommendation as a romantic comedy next to any mainstream production.

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DVD
Pink Eiga's dvd is non-anamorphic but of good quality. Subs are burnt in as usual, unfortunately. The company has gone extra mile with extras, including interviews with Daisuke Goto and Masahide Iioka (approx 28 min), a very funny NAFF Intro and Q&A (approx 18 min), audio commentary (available in both original Japanese and dubbed in English, but sadly without subtitlesand all the usual small stuff (trailers, posters, biographies...).

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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Frog Song (2005)

Shinji Imaoka’s slice of life pink, with two troubled girls making friends and sharing passion in manga and frog suits. Somewhat poorly acted (despite primary lead Konatsu’s solid performance in the same year’s Blind Love) and 30 minutes too short for its own good, it still somehow manages to be more pleasing and natural character drama than 90% of mainstream productions. Imaoka blends in the sex scenes with decent success, has relatively interesting characters to play with, and plenty of nice scenes between the two leads. And oh yes, dancing and singing to the Frog Song (Kaeru no uta, the original title which can also possess dual meaning as a “song for returning home”). No wonder Imaoka’s upcoming Underwater Love will be a full-fledged pink musical shot by Christopher Doyle and scored by Germany’s Stereo Total.

R2 UK by Salvation. Uncut but quite a poor transfer. There’s extensive ghosting, more than I remember seeing on Pink Eiga discs on average, plus all the usual shortcomings. A 2005 film ought to look better. US release by the same company available too. Extras include photo gallery and unrelated, Japan themed short that has nothing to do with pink cinema.

There’s a R2J with beautiful artwork available also.

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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Rather awesome small news: Japan Flix's pink eiga rentals go worldwide (Japan excluded):
http://www.japanflix.com/pink-eiga-now- ... orry-japan

I warmly recommend the following titles:
Anarchy in (Ja)panty: Kick ass punk chronicle (yes, punk) by Takahisa Zeze
S&M Hunter: ridiculously cool spaghetti western action pink with nazis!
Blind Love: adorable romantic drama/comedy, another example of the variety within pink eiga
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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I've been catching up with Nihon Eiga Senmon Channel's Momoiro Cinema on TV (an airing slot for more or less notable theatrical pink films from 80s through early 2000s) and will try to review a few of them.
- https://www.nihon-eiga.com/osusume/momoiro-cinema/


Lascivious Nurse Uniform Diary: Two or Three Times, While I'm Wet (白衣の告白 新人看護師日記) (Japan, 1997)[TV] – 4/5
Mitsuru Meike's absolutely delightful theatrical debut film is 90s Japanese micro-philosophical indie drama at its near-best, hidden under a completely ridiculous pink film title. The film follows lone, limping nurse Mariko Yoshioka who has little interest in men until he meets a geeky movie sound recorder guy (sort of like John Travolta in Blow Out, except less cool and instead of capturing an accident on tape he himself stumbles over a bridge railing and breaks his leg). What ensues is a cute semi-romance that constantly steers away from pink clichés. There's a scene, for instance, where the guy shows up in front of her house at night and sees her dancing (fully clothed) in her room. But instead of barging in and ripping her clothes off, he just starts dancing on the street alone (very badly, I might add). When she finally notices him and invites him in, he misunderstands and leaves like a gentleman. There are several more charming little scenes showing the heroine doing her everyday things, often accompanied by narrator voice. The storyline isn't the only thing this film excels at, though. The music is at times wonderfully off-beat, the movie looks beautifully filmic and grainy, and it's damn well edited. The cast is also good, there's no sex in hospital, and the ending is the biggest feel-good send-off I've seen in a long, long time. On the negative side the film cannot escape some excess sex, but thankfully even those scenes are very tolerable and unsleazy.

Reviewed here is the R-15 version Hakui no kokuhaku: Shinjin kangoshi nikki, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Hakui inran nikki: Nureta mama nido, sando. There is no mosaic or noticeable cuts that I could spot, but some sex scenes may have been re-framed.

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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Hitozuma boutique: Joji o tanoshimu onnatachi (人妻ブティック 情事を楽しむ女たち) (Japan, 2002) [TV] – 3.5/5
Director Osamu Sato's debut film. This could've been another pink film to be dismissed and ticked off the list after the first 15 minutes, but instead it ended up being an almost thoroughly engaging affair. The film follows a young working wife (lovely Mayumi Sawaki) who married a monster suit actor (think of small size Godzilla) who lost his working ability soon after marriage and she now has to support the two of them by herself. She's also got a younger bed partner, though she hasn't stopped loving the slacker husband either. There are some terrific scenes in this one, particularly those detailing the pre-marriage romance between her and the man in the monster suit, as well as a solid enough present day narrative that you’ll want to stay till the end to see what happens to these two people. The best scene comes near the end, an absolutely wonderful rainy day encounter that echoes of 1990s Takeshi Kitano magic, and also features Sawaki delivering the most heartfelt bit of acting that you’d never expect from an AV performer gone soft core actress. Of course the film also has some supporting character sex thrown in to meet the shagging quota, but it's handled with a light and humoristic touch that makes it less intrusive than usual. Reviewed here is the R15 version Hitozuma boutique: Joji on tanoshimu onnatachi, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Hitozuma boutique: Furinna mashitagi. There is no mosaic or noticeable cuts that I could spot.

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This is a good shot. Notice the couple shagging in the 2nd floor
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

Post by 10vodkaredbull »

Cool thread. Though the seven gods films seem a bit empty, compared to the four kings.
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Like a Rolling Stone (aka Blissful Genuine Sex: Penetration!) (さすらい 絶倫放浪記) (Japan, 1995) [TV] – 3.5/5
Dysfunctional relationships are a recurring theme Toshiki Sato's films. He rarely outright repeats himself, however, as he seems to find slightly different approaches to the same topic every time. This deadpan drama/comedy follows an emotionless slacker (Kikujuro Honda) who is not really hitting it off with his partner, or anyone, and relocates to a small freezing cold town to after meeting a woman who never smiles (Hotaru Hazuki). Fans of late 90s / early 2000s Nobuhiro Yamashita films should find some familiar ground here, only with more sex and less jokes. But this comparison does not do the film full justice because Sato’s film adds its own existential angle to the mix. Sato repeatedly films his protagonist from extreme close distance with handheld camera as he seems to be searching for some fulfilment that cannot be found (unlike in many other Sato films where an existential awakening sets the story in motion). A lot of these shots also beautifully capture time and place on celluloid: few if any other pink directors were as good at it as Sato, whose 90s films function as time capsules to the streets and apartments of the heisei era. The cast is solid as well, with Honda and his slacker Yoji Tanaka in particular standing out. They of course benefit from having good material to work with, which is typical to Sato who frequently worked with top screenwriters. This film was written by poet and movie critic Kenji Fukuma (under the pseudonym Shinji Tachibana), whose film career begun as an actor in Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi’s films back in the 60s. Oh and one final note: Mitsuru Meike was the assistant director on this picture.

Reviewed here is the R-15 version Sasurai: Zetsurin horoki which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Monzetsu honban: buchikomu! aka Blissful Genuine Sex: Penetration! The original title was Like a Rolling Stone, which got ditched as it clearly wasn’t commercial enough. The R-15 version features no mosaic or cuts that I could notice, but some sex scenes have obviously been re-framed.

Yoji Tanaka
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Kikujuro Honda
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Kikujuro Honda and Hotaru Hazuki
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Adultery Diary: One More Time While I’m Still Wet (不倫日記 お願いだからもう一度) (Japan, 1996) [TV] – 3.5/5

It sometimes takes a bit of good faith to get to the good stuff, as in this film that packs four sex scenes into its first 11 minutes. Once past that chore, there’s another unique and very funny deadpan satire by Toshiki Sato and his most valued screenwriter collaborator, the regular Cannes invitee Masahiro Kobayashi, to be found. Hotaru Hazuki plays a housewife novelist who is presented the most unusual hypothesis by friend Yukiko Izumi. “Authors depict the hell of misery in their writing, hence they should first live through the hell of adultery”. She then proceeds with this completely ridiculous suggestion, even getting permission from introvert husband Takeshi Ito, who deems it reasonable enough. After all, she promised to be back to her usual boring housewife self once done with the experiment. Thing don’t go quite as expected however, as her first adultery partner (Sato’s director and actor colleague Kazuhiro Sano) gets completely spooked by her active stance... Do not expect raunchy sex farce here despite how it may sound like, as Sato and Kobayashi progressively dial down the amount of sex as the film goes on. They’re more interested in examining gender roles, poking fun of the genre, and staging long, frequently hilarious discussions with stage-like and deadpan dialogue delivery. If there’s a flaw in the film (besides the horny first 11 minutes) it’s that Sato and Kobayashi get a bit too carried away with wild plot twists towards the end for it to make sense. But perhaps that’d be being too hard on a pink film. The 1997 Pink Film Awards certainly didn’t mind: the film took home best movie, best screenplay, and best actress awards.

Reviewed here is the R-15 version Furin nikki: onegai dakara mo ichido, which may but is unlikely to differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Furin nikki: nureta mama mo ichido. I think I spotted subtle mosaic (made less noticeable by darkness) in one or two scenes, and re-framing is likely, but I doubt the film has been cut.

Hotaru Hazuki and Kazuhiro Sano
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Huband Takeshi Ito
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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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E-Cup Real Action Take Two: Rich & Ripe (鍵のある風景 Eカップ豊熟) (Japan, 1989) [TV] – 3/5
When I first saw this film, I didn’t really warm up to it. Now eight months and five Toshiki Sato films later I found myself a lot more receptive to it. Though only his second theatrical release, this already contains everything expected from Sato and screenwriter Masahiro Kobayashi. Satsuki Fuji is the titular young E-cup heroine whose marriage has lost its spark with introvert husband Toru Nakane having turned into a passive roommate. She finds her fulfilment in a secret new boyfriend (Kikujiro Honda) who is however about to be transferred to Okinawa and is hoping she’d join him. Meanwhile the husband by chance comes across an old key to the wife’s former apartment, where old memories (and new inhabitants) live. He makes it a habit to visit the apartment to immerse in precious memories. Sato cuts between the boring present and the romantic past, creating subtle cinematic poetry, while also documenting the heisei era suburbs and apartments, which would become one of his most recognizable trademarks (the other being “dysfunctional couples”). Compared to some of his later films, this is a bit less refined and also comes with a rape scene (which is suggested to have been the tragic trigger behind their marriage), but it has one of the most beautiful closing shots in any Sato film. Sex is plenty, but Fuji and her assents are easy enough on the eye to make it less a drag than it might otherwise be. “Landscape with a Key” was Sato’s original title for the film, but that got changed to something more commercial upon the film’s release. Reviewed here is the R-15 version Kagi no aru fukei: E-kappu hojuku, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and is unlikely to differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version E-kappu honban II: Hojuku other than some shots in sex scenes being clearly re-framed.

* The re-watch was entirely unplanned. I just happened to turn on the TV last night and the film was on, with opening credits playing. I thought I’d just watch the first few scenes, but 60 minutes later I was still there, now with closing credits playing.

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Re: Modern Japanese Pink Cinema (treasures and avant garde)

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Adulterous Wife: Dizzy (不倫する人妻 眩暈) (Japan, 2002) [TV] – 3.5/5
Yuji Tajiri’s sophomore effort Office Lady: Love Juice (1999) established him as one of the young talents of early 2000s new Japanese cinema, only within pink films. This picture is even better, an existential urban drama with just enough sex to pass off it as a pink production. Yumeka Sasaki plays as a woman whose husband (Kazuhiro Sano) is left unemployed. To make ends meet, she starts a part time job in a company that also employs her ex-lover. Contrary to genre conventions, however, she does not immediately jump into bed with the man. The guy is having an affair with another office lady, which much to the protagonist’s own confusion sparks a jealous reaction in her. Meanwhile her husband, whose pride has been crushed by the job loss, grows ever more distant.

There’s a lot of very good cinematography in this, particularly long tracking shots on the streets of Shinjuku. The script is solid as well with a good storyline and interesting characters penned by Naoko Nishida (Mitsuru Meike’s Bitter Sweet was also written by her). While Sasaki is no Meryl Streep, she’s pretty good at acting low-key scenes with her body and eyes, whereas actor / director Sano is actually a genuinely fine actor. Overall this is a very solid effort in the hard-to-define, yet to be titled sub-genre of late 90s / early 2000s Japanese cinema popularized by the likes of Hiroshi Ishikawa, Shunji Iwai, Jun Ichikawa, and Ryuichi Hiroki in the mainstream field. Those of you who still don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine Lost in Translation but with a lower budget and Scarlett Johansson having a graphic sex scene with Bill Murray, then Murray also going to bed with the hooker one lonely night, and also Giovanni Ribisi banging Anna Faris through the back door in one scene, and you’re kind of close enough.

Reviewed here is the unaltered original version, which was originally released in theatres under the same title with an R18 rating, however, has later been downgraded to R15.

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