Saturday, June 12, 2021

Hard focus: Nusumi-giki (1988)

... aka: ハードフォーカス 盗聴
... aka: ハードフォーカス 盗聴<ぬすみぎき>
... aka: Hard Focus
... aka: Hard Focus 盗聴
... aka: Hard Focus: Eavesdropping
... aka: Shitsurakuen sokuryô chizu
... aka: Survey Map of a Paradise Lost

Directed by:
Hisayasu Satô

Reporter Satoshi Nukada (Tôru Nakane) likes to become really immersed in his various stories. Not just content with documenting them, or living vicariously through them, he also wants to participate in them, and walk in the shoes of the people who populate the articles he writes. But his editor warns, "If we tried everything we wrote about, we'd be in prison by now!" Nevertheless, Nukada is planning on applying this same technique to his new assignment: An expose on telephone sex clubs. Nukada heads to the Banana Club, which looks like any other boring office building with workers doing their thing in their drab individual rooms with lettered doors. The phone service enables members to connect with like-minded individuals interested in anonymous (and sometimes paid-for) sex. The journalist immediately meets his connection, a strange 17-year-old private school student named Midori Hoshikawa (Rio Yanagawa), who works there part time filling in for other girls. When Nukada tries to take her out to dinner so he can interview her, a red sports car pulls out in front of them. Out steps club member Norio Kihara (Kazuhiro Sano), who claims he's already reserved a date with Midori. He takes her and then drives off.

Kihara turns out to be a computer programmer whose dull job has led him to seek excitement elsewhere; namely hacking into the phone sex service and engaging in a very active, very violent and very kinky sex life. He and his pill-addicted wife (Kiyomi Itô) already enjoy sex that includes tying her up with cables, pinching her nipples with power cords, electro-shocking her tits and privates with live wires and slicing her ear open with a knife and licking the blood. But, ya know, no harm no foul there because his wife happens to be really into it. Still, her willingness to go that extra mile to please him (including also making amateur porn tapes with him) isn't quite enough, so he seeks out other females.

Midori is one of those ladies. After he takes her to a "love hotel," she warns him that she's on her period, to which he replies that's precisely why he wants to have sex with her: "I want to taste your blood!" While I won't go into graphic detail about what occurs after, I will say that he most definitely gets his wish. Not that Midori is completely opposed to that. She's more than a little bit screwed up herself.

Midori is obsessed with the real-life 1986 suicide of pop star / actress Yukiko Okada. After winning a televised singing competition, Okada went on to appear on popular TV shows and had #1 hit singles when, at just 18 years old and at the height of her popularity, she decided to end it all by jumping from the top of a seven-story building to her death. Her suicide shook Japan and her heavily-publicized death led to a ripple effect of similar suicides in the country. Midori claims she witnessed the suicide and saw Yukiko's bloody corpse afterward, concluding that "It was so sexy." She then confesses that her most erotic dreams involve fantasizing about falling to her death and hitting her head on the concrete.

Kihara is found dead in a hotel bathroom and Midori is also found at the scene of the crime rattled and injured, though still fine. Rumor gets back to Nukada that Kihara may have been videotaping the tryst prior to getting killed and said video may contain evidence of what really occurred there. When she isn't writhing around suffering from drug withdrawal skin creeps, Kihara's always-scratching wife refuses to talk to him. Once Midori is released from the hospital, the reporter finds himself becoming immersed in both a murder plot and some, uh, other bizarre stuff.

This, like most of Satô's other stuff, is a notch above most other erotic films. Not only is it well-made but it's also interested in the darker aspects, psychology and emotion behind sex as opposed to merely showing the sex acts themselves. It's interesting and thoughtful at times, exploitative and base at others, a little surreal and even a little frustrating. And, while it's less sexually graphic than hardcore porn, it's more sexually graphic than most American and European soft-core. The emphasis is still on BDSM scenarios, both consensual and not-so consensual, and the expected themes from this director are all present and accounted for. Expect lots of lonely, miserable lost souls shuffling through their empty existence of urban isolation in a futile, desperate attempt to force some kind of feeling into their lives... even if that feeling is only one of physical pain. All capped off with a major WTF ending.

Very few of the director's titles ever made it to the U. S. or Europe during the video area, likely because there really wasn't a place for them in most video stores. While they were far too graphic to put in the general rental sections, they weren't quite graphic enough for the backroom adult sections or bookstores either and thus fell into this impossible-to-market void. As a result, this one wasn't officially released until the 2006 DVD from Arts Magic Ltd.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...