Ryuichi Hiroki – Futei no kisetsu AKA I Am an S+M Writer (2000)

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Synopsis:
A writer draws inspiration for his erotic stories from vivid bondage scenes performed right in front of his writing desk. Still, he prefers to novelize his fascination rather than participate actively. As a consequence, the already ambivalent relation with his wife turns into an intriguing reflection of himself. HIROKI’s growth as a director is evident when he subordinates apparent obscenities to mildly humorous romance, employing his background as a pinku director to create a highly dramatic effect. Continue reading

Toshiharu Ikeda – Kagi AKA The Key (1997)

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Ikuko is a mature, reserved Kyoto woman married for many years to a respectable, now-middle-aged man. The only problem in their relationship has been that her husband is dissatisfied with her lack of passion during lovemaking. All this changes after they meet the young Mr. Kimura. After the three spend the evening drinking together and Kimura has gone home, Ikuko’s husband discovers that his wife, in her alcohol-induced haze, has become far more passionate than she ever was before. The one drawback, however, is that her ardor is clearly fueled by Kimura, and not by him. Though he decides that his wife’s new- found passion is worth this unusual price, the long-term consequences may be more than he bargained for. Continue reading

Tatsumi Kumashiro – Akasen tamanoi: Nukeraremasu AKA Street of Joy (1974)

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It’s the evening before the day all brothels must be shut-down, according to the new law, in 1958. At the Kofukuya’s (literally, the house that sells happiness), five prostitutes decide to celebrate the day. Erotism, drama, and comedy mix as each hour, and a different event passes, in which all the women’s stories come to the surface. (IMDb)

With humor and tenderness, this film explores the lives of four Japanese prostitutes in the time just before that lifestyle was outlawed in 1958. All four take some pride in their work, though one of them responds to aging with a suicide gesture. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi Continue reading

Akio Jissôji – Mujô AKA This Transient Life (1970)

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Quote:
One of the recurrent themes of the Art Theatre Guild (ATG)’s films of the 60s and early 70s was incest. In Funeral Procession of Roses (Bara No Soretsu, 1968) Toshio Matsumoto told a modern version of the Oedipus tale, transplanting the story into the gay subculture of present-day Tokyo. The hero of Susumu Hani’s The Inferno of First Love (Hatsukoi Jigokuhen, 1968) suffers from the sexual abuse of his stepfather. In Yoshishige Yoshida’s Heroic Purgatory (Rengoku Eroica, 1970) a young girl who creeps into the life of a scientist and his wife pretending to be their daughter seduces her alleged father. The family head in Nagisa Oshima’s masterful critique of the patriarchic family, The Ceremony (Gishiki, 1971), rapes his son’s bride. In Masahiro Shinoda’s Himiko (1974) the prehistoric shaman empress of Japan falls in love with her brother and is killed by ruthless elders who can no longer exercise control over her. In Kazuo Kuroki’s Preparations for the Festival (Matsuri No Junbi, 1975) the disabled Kikuo is sexually comforted by his mother, and in Shuji Terayama’s Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Den’en Ni Shisu, 1974), the story of a boy who tries to escape his mother, incest is omnipresent. Continue reading

Yoshishige Yoshida – Rengoku eroica AKA Heroic Purgatory (1970)

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Quote:
Little exists, critically speaking, on the subject of Yoshishige Yoshida’s “Heroic Purgatory”. It is a singular experience in that it has never been the subject of much acclaim or criticism. Film sites boast very few, if any, reviews. You will not find its name amongst the more famous Japanese cinematic works. Once one has seen the film, that is all there is. There is no chance to read a critical evaluation and put the pieces together with the help of a more wise, trusted and noted critic. The film extrapolates no farther than itself and its viewer. Continue reading