Movies We Like
Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974
Ever wish you could meet a strong-willed Japanese feminist from the '70s? Now's your chance. Director Kazuo Hara introduces us to a woman named Miyuki Takeda—his former lover, and one of the most impressive subjects to ever be captured on film. After leaving him and taking their child to travel from mainland Japan to Okinawa, Hara decides that the only way to stay connected with her and understand what happened in their relationship is to document her and those who enter her life after their time together. So from 1972 to 1974, Hara frequents Okinawa to film her, doing so with grace and capturing some amazing footage of locals as well.
In 1972, Miyuki begins a new relationship with a woman named Sugako. His presence throughout this segment caused tension and unease with the couple as their disoriented and sometimes abusive relationship unfolds onscreen. In this section of the documentary we are able to see an enormous transformation with Miyuki. Not only has she decided to abandon all aspects of her personality that would classify her as a "good wife," but also everything and anything that could prevent her or her son from becoming anything short of radical.
She questions the validity of her new relationship and desperately tries to understand her sexuality, but admits to the bewilderment of this new life with a glowing humility that has unfortunately fallen out of favor nowadays.
Wishing to be alone after her relationship with Sugako, she decided that the only way to test her strength and abilities in this world would be to have a second child alone, with no particular person, and to deliver it without anyone's aid. So here begins her days socializing in bars and nightclubs in search of a place where "free love" is possible. In doing so she meets some pretty flavorful characters, including Chichi—a fourteen-year-old runaway who enjoys bedding black men, sports a glorious afro, and keeps up, step for step, with the boys while dancing to funk and disco. Through this circle Miyuki meets Paul—a young and handsome black man with ambitions of becoming a soldier. Their relationship ends in a matter of weeks, leaving Miyuki pregnant and even more dubious of further relationships with both men and women.
While going through the various months of pregnancy alone, she writes to Hara in Tokyo, filling him in on all the bizarre happenings in Okinawa. In the new city, she has found great comforts in the tough and rowdy bar girls where the women carry knives and have the grizzliest of stories to tell. She becomes a caretaker for their children while they work and eventually returns to Tokyo to allow Hara to film her delivery. Done as she wished with absolutely no assistance, Miyuki delivers a baby girl. Proud and excited to not only be the mother of two, but of a mixed child, she urges other women to take charge of their futures and starts a commune for women and their children.
Hara's daring and extremely personal work throughout Miyuki's feminist discovery is absolutely mesmerizing. Though the film is done in a home video sort of style with out-of-sync sound and various out-of-focus shots, we not only see the change in Miyuki, but of Hara's craft as a filmmaker as well. As years pass, he becomes more aware of his abilities and begins capturing impressive angles and scenarios that bring us closer to his desire. Some of the best footage is in the bars and of the impressive erotic dancers in Okinawa. There are many times where I was left speechless throughout the film, which does not happen often. And though this is an amateur accomplishment for Hara, it proves his promise as a documentary filmmaker and measures up to films such as Following Sean and The Up Series. Highly recommended and not to be missed!