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Tears of Ecstasy

Gay director Hiroyuki Oki ("Heaven-6-Box") goes polymorphously perverse in "Tears of Ecstasy," but it's a highly aestheticized form of hetero porn, in which the abstract music of New Yorker John Zorn is featured as prominently as any nudity or stylized sex. The hipness factor is right off the meter, but the short pic is destined for cult, not crossover, status. Broken into 50 one-take scenes --- each announced, in English, by Zorn --- the non-tale is set on the northern island of Shikoku, on which a beyond-eccentric Japanese family is going through some unusual growing pains. For one thing, the young-adult kids (Tomoki Taguchi and Akiko Osugi) are disturbed that their parents (Hiromi Fujita and helmer Oki) don't seem much older than them, and that one or both might be gay. Finally, they confront the folks, who explain that they're not aliens, but merely from the future (or "1995," as Dad explains). This all has something to do with mysterious calligraphy that resembles tears, and the marks keep showing up in the darnedest places, and during the darnedest sex acts.

With:
With: Tomoki Taguchi, Akiko Osugi, Hiroyuki Oki, Hiromi Fujita, Kiyomi Ito, Hotaru Hazuki, Takasi Nagai, Masayuki Yohana, Ken Morimoto, Ryuich Kawai, Satoru Yakushiji, Riko Kondo, Reiko Hirata, Hiroyuki Ikeda, Kin-san.

At other times, the son masturbates on a giant woodpile, convinced that he’ll see a UFO at climax; a semi-nude woman wanders around with an unpeeled banana in

her mouth; leather chicks lounge around, reading Western philosophy; a short-haired gal named Unko (“shit” in Japanese) moves between worlds and poses by the seaside, where couples copulate mechanically on the beach.

The helmer’s cool-eyed transgressions are far too abstruse to arouse emotions, or anything else. This is somewhat surprising, since his only previous

foray into 35mm, “I Like You, I Like You Very Much,” was a flatly shot, naturalistic study of a tentative urban romance. This time, much care has been lavished on the images, which, however kinky, are composed for maximum irony and artiness.

Oki’s brand of “Ecstasy” created a very brief panic at Japanese triple-X theaters, where patrons rebelled against this decidedly unerotic porn a la Zorn. Hipsters and film critics dug it, however, and it has since seen video, compact disc and CD-ROM tie-ins. Some play is likely for adventurous webs, although unwary auds may think they’ve stumbled onto Martian home movies.

Tears of Ecstasy

Japanese

Production: A KKokuei (Tokyo) production. (International sales: Stance Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Daisuke Asakura, Akihiro Suzuki. Directed by Hiroyuki Oki. Screenplay, Oki, Kiyomi Ito

Crew: Camera, Takeshi Uehara; editor, Naoki Kaneka; music, John Zorn; sound, New Meguro Studio; assistant director, Kouichi Imaizumi. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 15, 1996. Running time: 62 MIN.

With: With: Tomoki Taguchi, Akiko Osugi, Hiroyuki Oki, Hiromi Fujita, Kiyomi Ito, Hotaru Hazuki, Takasi Nagai, Masayuki Yohana, Ken Morimoto, Ryuich Kawai, Satoru Yakushiji, Riko Kondo, Reiko Hirata, Hiroyuki Ikeda, Kin-san.

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