domingo, 26 de fevereiro de 2012

Top 5 Nikkatsu Roman Porno


If you don't know, Nikkatsu is the oldest studio in Japan and they were for many years known by their chambara films. However, at the end of the 50's they started to produce youth-themed movies with strong characters and nihilistic themes. Their gangster noir films were recurring productions too. By the beggining of the 70's, because erotic movies were popular and yet mainly produced by smaller companies or none at all, Nikkatsu changed their movie policy again, to save the studio from bankruptcy and conquer a new audience. Thus they began a new line of eroductions called Roman Porno. These productions were somewhat revolutionary because they simbolized the first time erotic movies were taken seriously by a main studio (true, Toei had ero-guro in the 60's but that was always considered excessive and outcast at the time, not being the main focus of the studio) and they usually had big budgets, although their running time was usually sixty, seventy minutes. All kinds of directors and actors emerged, showing the world erotic movies could be much more than just filmed sex. Of course, they were times that none of the directors would care if their movies were more than sex, but other times, some of the productions are exotic, dark and very creative. What I personally enjoy about some Roman Pornos is what I could call "a vision from inside". In these movies, things are seen twisted from their usual sense, creating some sort of claustrophobia of emotions. Sex is just a way to detach the eye into a troubled one, not searching only for pleasure, but for pain. These movies can amaze the viewer, because they depict another world, the world of imanent fears, screams, intimacy... This top is not complete because I didn't watched all those films (and I do think that some of them, like Shinji Somai's Love Hotel, could feature here in the future).


No. 5
Assault! Jack the Ripper! (1978) - directed by Yasuharu Hasebe

Hasebe's Jack The Ripper works like a linear nightmare that gets so intense only to end with no conclusion, suspending the disbelief of the spectator to a point where he can wonder that all is an illusion. Hasebe is known for changing the erotics of Nikkatsu to bleak narratives with violent characters, anti-social actions and with this controversial film, one might wonder if he's awake or asleep.


No. 4
Night of the Felines (1972) - directed by Noboru Tanaka

With this character driven movie, director Noboru Tanaka reworks almost the same themes as Kenji Mizoguchi did in 1956 with his last film, The Street of Shame, but with a more modern background to it. Night of the Felines films the relationships between men and women with a almost sarcastic tone, never forgetting the most dramatic parts and the amazing cinematography (check the last takes, it almost recalls avant-garde films like Oshima's Diary of a Shinjuku Thief).


No. 3
Twisted Path of Love (1973) - directed by Tatsumi Kumashiro

This film by Kumashiro blends almost every good thing that Roman Porno's movies could offer: ecstatic moments of rapture, flirtation with cinema devices (meta-filmic references, anyone?), and the portrait of anguished youth with a great soundtrack - those guitars make me shiver. Kumashiro's movies are almost like if the viewer is listening to a story told by some poor-class worker with great communication skills, but almost illiterate. It's this kind of oral tradition (often musically represented) that Kumashiro masterfully crafts into his ouvre, giving disjointed narratives that seem to go nowhere. Images turn themselves on us, and everything is at the same place: laughter, cries and etc.


No. 2
Sweet Scent of Eros (1973) - directed by Toshiya Fujita

Toshiya Fujita might be most known and acclaimed by his Lady Snowblood films (especially after Tarantino's hommage in Kill Bill) but almost anyone know that he was, at the same time, one of the most groundbreaking Nikkatsu directors, a truly creative voice in the studio. Sweet Scent of Eros is a great example of the genre transforming itself in something else, a bittersweet critique of disoriented youth.


No. 1
Angel Guts: Red Classroom (1979) - directed by Chusei Sone

Director Chusei Sone is the most distinct follower of Seijun Suzuki's oblique style at Nikkatsu. His films are filled with visual alucinations too, mad passions, obsessions and of course haunting images, making him one of the definite masters of Roman Porno. With this thematic sequel to the Angel Guts series (based on the manga by Takashi Ishii, a director in his own right), there is no school exploitation - forget the Classroom in the title - but a tale of deception and sorrowfull erotism. Cinematically speaking, this is maybe one of the most interesting films of the 70's Japanese cinema, one sex scene in particularly feels like the viewer is drunk or high. It's this hard sense of alienation that Sone, with his psychotic camera, captures masterfully.

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