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Tender Throbbing Twilight
Tender Throbbing Twilight or "Tasogare" Shinji Imaoka This is the fourth Imaoka film we subtitled at DeanShimauchi. It's the tenth pink genre movie we did. After subtitling 10 pink movies, I'm more educated and accepting of the genre. In the beginning I found it rather confusing as to how to validate this genre that appeared to be a leftover from the 70s. It really has a connotation of "genre" that resonates to other genres like "action," "fantasy," "horror," "sci-fi" and "blacksploitation." Indeed pink is of exploitation nature as "Shaft" or "It's Alive!" are so. Single-mindedly targeted to a market that doesn't cross with wider range of audiences, those movies are shot and put together quickly and released for a short period of time for a quick turnout. Pink is definitely a sexploitation genre and that's OK, because without genre movies what's the fun of movie viewing anyway? Given this notion that pink is sexploitation, I still had my initial confusion. As I subtitled a pink movie of the late 90s for the first time, it was so not sexy. It has sex scenes but they are usually quite painful to watch probably because the characters in many of the pink movies we subtitled are so not dramatically enhanced. They're presented as a regular people and many of them are depicted as rather sad and lonely people. On one extreme end of pornography, there are those sex cyborgs that American hardcore performers are. Not to say that they are any sexier, they are more or less like freaks of nature, but at least the point is clear that they're personified libido. In pink movies, we see performers who are not necessarily good-looking nor well-built nor sexy. Many of them are not even physically attractive to look at. Stripped of fantasy elements of sex, those sad looking, frustrated regular people having sex in a plainly lit long shot is hard to watch.

All the 10 pink movies we subtitled are famous for their unique qualities. So it's dangerous for me to draw any generalization about the pink genre from those 10 titles only. And unique they are! Those 10 titles taught me the strange potential the pink genre is known to possess. Once I got over the fact none of them was sexy, I realized the fact that they could and did explore much deeper and more complicated level of human conditions than any American porn flick can possibly attempt, under the guise of sexploitation movies. It functions similar to the exploitation films Roger Corman produced in the 60s and 70s in the way they functioned as a training field for young talents. There were obligatory conditions and the obvious budget restrictions but as long as a filmmaker clears those conditions and restrictions he could try his crazy ideas. The conditions of a Kokuei production's pink movie are something like (from unofficial, unconfirmed sources), at least 3 sex scenes, no longer than 60 minutes, no more than 3,500,000 yen budget. Within those limitations much experiments were executed in the pink genre since the 60s, spawning talents like Koji Wakamatsu and Shinji Somai. I just didn't know that it was still going on.

Shinji Imaoka, with "Tender Throbbing Twilight," deals with old people's sexuality. 65 to be precise. It's indeed a tender movie, sensitively following the story of 2 old former classmates. They were in love with each other when they were 14 or 15 but their inability to express and accept their feelings toward each other got in their way to become a couple. 50 years later they are reunited and... Sorry, but no spoiler here. It's a story that works with no sex scene at all. Its plot can be recycled for a Hollywood movie. But this is a Pink movie and it has sex scenes. While a Hollywood movie would spend 1 hour to build up for stars to finally have a suggested sex, it's much simpler with pink movies. This matter-of-fact-ness about sex allows pink movies an emotional short cut with which they can cut down to the point much quicker. The audience feels tied up in a guilty relationship with the protagonists after watching them having realistic sex in front of you, exposing themselves in the most awkward and vulnerable moments. There's no need for a big drama. No need for going distance with whole a lot of dialogue. It's an effective way to drag you into the movie, although it may only work within the framework of the pink genre. Imaoka effortlessly crosses over genres though and that's the beauty of a well-made exploitation film. There're no colossal squids nor a deadly tarantula, nor a King Yama of hell nor a talking bowling ball in "TTT." But it certainly has the heart and the humor that every Imaoka film has. And it has a very sexy sex scene too! It provides you a reason to contemplate about life. It makes you laugh and grin. All in 65 minutes of running time. That's the power of Imaoka pink movies, and I guess the organizers and the attendants of Nippon Connection know this far better than I do.

Shown at Nippon Connection in April, so don't miss it!
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