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Japanese Pinku movies...

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Posted 24th April 2009 at 09:45 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

Republished from my days reviewing for "The Man". As before, these were meant to be viewed individually as people browsed the site, so there's a few repeated points.

Whether my reviews helped to shift any product is another matter...

Tokyo X Erotica

Skirting that fine line between art and pornography, Japanese "Pink Cinema" constantly pushes the boundaries of taste and decency. As an example of this genre, Tokyo X Erotica is no exception with this collection of five sexually charged episodes containing enough demented East Asian weirdness to keep any bizarre film fan happy. Politics, philosophy, death and copious amounts of sex mix with pounding rock music, incestuous relationships and people dressed in big bunny outfits to create a twisted and surreal world of shock. Whether the film manages to answer the questions of birth, life and death that it sets out to is questionable but with graphic, close to the bone imagery like this it hardly matters...

Lunch Box

Another interesting example of the many "pink" films made for the Japanese sex film industry every year. This is a million miles away from the kind of soft porn rubbish that used to appear on channel 5. Japan's erotic movies are far darker, better acted and usually feature far more complex characterizations than their western counterparts. From a Western perspective, these movies play more like slightly seamy art movies than sex flicks. In Lunchbox, a short-lived, tragic love affair begins when a mute girl, Aiko, knocks a postal worker from his bicycle. Soon after meeting they make love and Aiko finds herself powerfully drawn to her new lover. Unable to speak, she shows her love by making beautiful looking lunchboxes which she delivers to his workplace. Things turn ugly when the postman decides to call it quits...

Lost Virgin (Cuffs)

Lost Virgin follows the exploits of a girl in three separate time periods, Summer 10 years ago, Summer 5 years ago and This Summer. Each tale has the main character, Chisato, going on a paid encounter organized by a phone dating service. The first story sees her as a schoolgirl and her partner of the moment likes handcuffs! Luckily, she gets away from this dangerous character with the aid of a classmate, who is rewarded by getting to deflower a virgin...Five years on and Chisato is working in an office and living with her boyfriend but can't give up the telephone dates, leading to threesomes and emotional breakdowns...

Running 71 minutes, an epic by pinku cinema standards, this film isn't as porn heavy as some in the genre and has some quirky humour to keep the proceedings skipping along. Director Toshiki Sato, director of the fast paced and kinky Tandem, does a good job with the micro-budget and a good cast. Lost Virgin belongs to a very niche genre of films but for curious film fans, there's some interesting things going on in Pink films and they are worth exploring.

Dirty Maria

A disturbing combination of murder mystery and Japanese 'Pinku" (surreal soft porn) movie, Dirty Maria is a sombre tale shot in a very stark, grim fashion with no music, a move that actually helps the downbeat atmosphere of the film. These movies are an acquired taste, being a world away from the slick ghostly scares of Japans successful horror franchises. The pinku movie is usually low budget and quite extreme in it's imagery and offers the viewer a far more disturbing experience than the usual Asian fare.

In Dirty Maria, a cabbie is trying to find his wife who has been missing for a while. His wife's beautician friend hints that the woman planned to attend a hot spring retreat, hidden in the snowy mountains. He visits the spa with his wife's friend, oblivious to the fact that it was she who murdered his spouse and then disposed of here dismembered body parts in a park rubbish bin. Not the usual subject for erotic filmmaking but then Pinku movies have a tendency to explore dark themes. Dirty Maria is an effect psychodrama with an under-currant of sexual dysfunction bubbling underneath the surface.

Bitter Sweet

Bitter Sweet is a 21st century example of a Japanese Pinku film. Sometimes known as Roman-Porn films (short for Romantic Pornography), pink films differ from Western softcore sex films in that they are generally dark in tone and are often feature both complex characters and difficult relationships.

The fluffy, Playboy erotica of most American cable channel smut is reversed in the pink cinema film, replaced with broody, often dark photography, bare, basic, kitchen sink sets and sex scenes that can be violent, perverse and hard to watch. Bitter Sweet is an ideal example of this style of film making, shot fast on a small budget, it tells an story of average people and their complex relationships, as a younger woman's worries about her impending marriage drive her into the arms of an older man.

The fine line between art and pornographic exploitation is blurred as near hardcore footage mixes with softer scenes and the well-acted moments of drama. This is an interesting but under explored corner of Asian filmmaking and the history of Pink films stretches back to the 60s, when the big Japanese studios hit troubled times and needed to find cheap ways to get their audience back. The great Japanese tradition of mixing talented artistic filmmaking with exploitation continues to this day with weird, rewarding movies like this.

Sex Machine

Bizarre Japanese pink porn for fans of the truly weird end of Asian cinema. Unlike Western cable TV sex movies, Japan's softcore is made by real filmmakers and are often bursting with strange visual ideas and dark plot lines.

In this decent entry in the genre, the director uses the standard 1 hour format that most of this films abide by to create a peculiar mix of slapstick, goofy sex and sleaze as a lazy man lives of his girlfriend while blowing all his money betting of the local insect wrestling matches, in which locusts are pitted against each other. His girlfriend is a single mother with a dark past and an annoying ex-boyfriend. The old beau also has a new partner and, this being a sex film, there are as many couplings as can be fitted into a short feature whilst keeping some semblance of plot. Twisted, funny and perverse, Sex Machine is a fine example of this particular genre of Japanese cinema.
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