My dick didn’t twitch even an inch when I watched Koichi Imaizumi’s hardcore porn film. That was because I am a straight man.[BACK]
I had never watched any gay porn before, so I was worried about two things when I first went to the screening of his flick. Would I get sick when I watch sex scenes between/among men? And, what if I get sexually aroused by watching it?
Would those reactions be both due to some homophobia I may have, I wondered.
Actually, I believe the former is not homophobia, while the latter is.
It is natural to be revolted by sexual acts of an orientation that is different than one’s own. Heterosexuals may often (if not always) reject sexual advances by members of the same sex while homosexuals may feel uncomfortable with members of the other sex coming onto them. Bisexuals, for that matter, may be persuaded either way. Of course, things aren’t black or white, and all the colors between must be equally respected.
My concern about getting aroused by gay porn, however, is due to my not wanting to admit any unknown, hidden homosexual desire I might have inside me. Where does it come from? I’d say it comes from my fear against deviating from the norms of the social majority to which I have belonged to all my life.
As a result, as mentioned earlier, watching Imaizumi's film with scene after scene of men fucking men caused no reaction on the part of my sexual member. I then had no other choice but to solidly confirm my heterosexual orientation.
Was the film that boring then?
Not a bit at all. The film was intended as gay porn, and the director must have shot it in a way to it sexually arouse his viewers. It was me, in that sense, who could not appreciate the film the way Imaizumi intended for his audience. But as one can sometimes enjoy films or pieces of music that are shot and composed in an unfamiliar language or style, I could thoroughly enjoy Imaizumi’s film as a piece of entertainment, and its fuck scenes didn’t gross me out at all.
The film went like this. A middle-aged, depressed Japanese man Koichi (acted by the director himself), living in Berlin, one day, meets a slutty, young tourist Ryota (Lyota Majima), also Japanese, who has happened to stumble into Koichi’s life. Koichi agrees to let him stay in his flat as a temporary fuck buddy, but soon falls in love with the boy. The boy, however, doesn’t care about his host’s feeling, finds new hookups everyday on Grindr, only coming back home to Koichi’s place to sleep at night. In a way, this is a story of a man being cheated on. But then, Koichi insists Ryota tell him what kind of sex he has had with his hookups, and forces Ryota to reenact the scenes with him.
In one scene, for example, at a breakfast together, Koichi dares to ask Ryota out for a date, only to be rejected. He sees the boy off for another sex date and is left alone in his flat to do the dishes. Who in the audience wouldn’t feel sympathy for the heartbroken Koichi? This must owe not a little to the screenplay written by Gengoroh Tagame, the hardcore porn comic artist who has been enjoying recent international fame. With Hiroki Taguchi’s handsome cinematography, the film was a premium love story anybody of any sexuality could identify with.
When my non-responsive dick confirmed my stubborn heterosexuality, I was not necessarily relieved. Rather, I was not completely detached or moved by the sad gay love story, either. This might be a stale, clichéd statement, but honestly, after watching Imaizumi’s portrait of these drifters in Berlin, I’ve come to realize that love, no matter whether gay or straight, is no different, and this proves that I may not be as homophobic as I thought. This made me happy.
Yasumichi Noma（C.R.A.C.） Translated by Takao Kawaguchi, Proofread by Jonathan M. Hall
You just have to get past all the sex to see it.
Berlin Drifters will also be hampered by its raw production values and hit-and-miss performances,
but even those can’t really disguise the film’s fundamentally sweet — and traditional — heart.
Imaizumi and Tagame are, ironically, meticulous in their use of sex, with the most emotionally rewarding segments
as blatantly free of full-frontal nudity as the rest of the film is chock full of it.
Koichi’s reunion with his old boyfriend Mioo and a farewell with Xiaogang are as affecting as they are pointed,
as is Ryota’s slow realization that he may be looking for true love all the wrong way — for him.
Alexanderplatz has never looked so lonely.
Elizabeth Kerr (from 'The Hollywood Reporter')
The beautiful streets of Berlin, beautiful actions of Mr Imaizumi, beautiful storyline in which meticulously crafted plots intertwine together...
Perhaps because of all these, I somehow didn’t find the endless chain of male-to-male sex promiscuous.
This film struck me rather emotionally because it made me recollect my experiences of having sex simply to go into ecstasy
and as a way of releasing myself from anxiety and trauma. By the end of the film, I found my brain lightly exhausted, my mind considerably healed,
and my eyes with a subtle trace of tears unnoticed whilst watching.
This movie is recommended for everybody who hopes to become emotionally aware of—rather than intellectually think about—what sex really is.
K Nomura (Translator)