I Like You, I Like You Very Much

Affording a rare casual view of Japanese gay life, this sexually explicit short fiction feature could win some interest at gay fests and as a specialty vid item. But aimless narrative and vaguely defined characters won't tempt further export outlets.

Affording a rare casual view of Japanese gay life, this sexually explicit short fiction feature could win some interest at gay fests and as a specialty vid item. But aimless narrative and vaguely defined characters won’t tempt further export outlets.

Male leads are all in their early 20s, playing residents of midsize coastal town Kochi. Nominal protag You spies a leather-jacketed stranger on a train platform, follows him homeward and on the street impulsively taps same on the shoulder to gush title sentiment — as he often does, apparently. They have sex. You later confesses this lapse to his boyfriend, and consults an ex-lover for advice.

Between various horizontal bouts, figures wander around drab cityscapes, absorbed in personal melodramas too obliquely conveyed to the viewer. Pic was conceived as a “rose family” (gay porn) entry, but director Hiroyuki Oki chose a more esoteric route via largely hand-held 35mm camerawork and some arty crosscutting effects. Resulting verite feel intrigues to a point, yet doesn’t bring the viewer any closer to cipherlike characters. Style also tends to create an atmosphere of ennui rather than erotic abandon, despite occasional thumping house music on soundtrack. While frequent and fairly graphic, the sex scenes stop short of hard-core. In usual Nippon fashion, groin shots are strictly omitted.

A “Living End” poster in one figure’s bedroom suggests homage to U.S. gay indie features, but “I Like You” lacks the energy or humor Gregg Araki and others have brought to similar projects.

I Like You, I Like You Very Much

(JAPANESE)

Production: An ENK production. Executive producer, Sinji Komada (ENK). Directed, written, edited by Hiroyuki Oki.

Crew: Camera (color), Oki; sound, Masaru Usui; line producer, Akihiro Suzuki. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, Feb. 9, 1995. (In S.F. Asian American Film Festival.) Running time: 58 MIN.

With: With: Kazunori Sibuya, Hinanori Kitakaze, Kazufumi Nisimoto, Hiroyuki Oki, Youji Tanaka, Tomodo Ko, Yoko Yamamoto, Akihiro Suzuki.

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