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Eclectic DVD presents
Tandem (1994)

"I had a wife, but I got bored. I went up to Tokyo with this young girl."
- Mr. Inoue

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 10, 2002

Stars: Kino Mahito, Hazuki Hataru, Ishiwara Yuri, Ogi Maya
Other Stars: Takano Hitomi, Katsuyama Shigeo, Sase Yoshiaki, Ito Takeshi, Shimizu Hirotaka
Director: Toshiki Sato

Manufacturer: LMW
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (18+ for explicit sexuality, violence)
Run Time: 00h:43m:03s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 022891103523
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ C-D+C+ C

DVD Review

As a result of the financial collapse of the Japanese film industry in the early 1960s, the major studios turned to producing pornographic films as a way to stave off bankruptcy. Japan's oldest major, Nikkatsu Company, began producing "roman-porn eiga" (short for `romantic-pornographic movies'), and Pink Cinema was born. Previously the domain of amateurs, this genre attracted mainstream directors as well as those already producing adult material, and while required to contain naked women and sex scenes, they were allowed the freedom to frame these elements in more artistic and creative storylines than would be expected from North American or European films of the same class. There were guidelines that also had to be adhered to, such as a maximum 60 minute runtime, and a budget of under $18,000 US. Most were shot in 4-6 days. Due to strict censorship laws that forbade the display of genitalia or pubic hair, these films often pushed the limits of acceptability, resulting in a handful of cases where the directors were arrested on obscenity charges, later dismissed by the courts. As a result, the industry exploded, becoming a vital part of the Japanese film business.

Tandem (Chikan densha hitozuma-hen: Okusama wa chijo) tells the story of two men who meet by chance in a late night coffee shop. The older, Mr. Inoue, is reminiscing about a sexual encounter he had earlier in the day with a stranger on the commuter train. A young biker arrives, and is offered a cigarette by the older man, who is looking for company and someone to share his day's stories with. The biker is himself remembering the day's events, and the rape of his girlfriend in retribution for her confession of infidelity. The two men end up cruising the town on the younger's motorcycle, but as the night wears on, the biker becomes increasing offended by the older man's attitude, eventually attacking him and leaving him for dead.

Through the course of the film, both men examine their (primarily sexual) relationships with the women in their lives; their partners and the mistresses they both keep. The line between reality and fantasy is blurred, as both men try to detach from any emotional level, and maintain a position of dominance, which is clearly a figment of their imaginations. There is, of course, a twist in the end, which the audience sees, but neither man discovers—they have exchanged partners. Where the storyline does wander into surreal escapism, the photography has a cinèma vérité feel to it, with odd, intimate angles, shaky handheld work, and casual immediacy. As expected, there are ample sex scenes, though their erotic potential will be determined by the viewer's taste—there is no effort to portray soft or sensual moments; the men are fully in command, with their women as submissive, and not always willing participants. However, the women do wield the upper hand by inference, as they are usually manipulating their men to their desires, or provoking their reactions.

I would note that despite appearing to clock in at just under 60 minutes on the time display, the actual run length is only 43 minutes.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image is watchable, but of poor quality, looking like the upscaling of a low-resolution transfer. As a result, there is a great deal of aliasing and jaggies on all outlines. Detail is minimal, and the overall appearance is very dark, with no shadow detail. Colors are passable, but tend towards yellow in hue. Compression is evident throughout, but is the least of the detrimental factors, as is the abundance of unnarural grain. I'm sure this was sourced from 16mm somewhere down the line, but this looks to have been format converted poorly along the way. The degraded quality does lend its own character, but I doubt it is intentional.

Subtitles are hard and not removeable, but do lie within the 1.66:1 widescreen frame.

Image Transfer Grade: D+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
PCMJapaneseno


Audio Transfer Review: The Japanese mono PCM soundtrack is passable, but does distort frequently on loud voices. Musical segments, which are sparsely used, also have some edginess to them, but both seem source based and not a result of the transfer. Frequency range is also limited, but dialogue is for the most part discernable and well defined.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Pirvirella
Packaging: unknown keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Overview of pink cinema
  2. Brief history of pink cinema
  3. PAL VHS catalogue
Extras Review: Like other titles from this studio, menus are extremely sluggish. The main navigation always defaults to the topmost option, and does not allow backwards selctivity to quickly get to the bottom of the list.

Two sections cover a brief biography and filmography for director Toshiki Sato. A single screen overview of the pink movement and a slightly longer history of the genre are also included, which do contain some interesting information.

Video excerpts for Screen Edge releases The Bedroom and The Dream of Garuda follow, along with a low-resolution trailer for Pervirella. An odd inclusion is a complete catalogue listing for Screen Edge's PAL VHS titles.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

An example of Pink Cinema, Tandem intertwines the lives of two male strangers through their women. The myth of gropers on Japanese commuter trains forms an integral part of the story, as the men share details of their intimate lives with each other after a chance encounter. The unusual premise and style is lost in a low quality transfer. For adults only, due to the strong sexual content.

 


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