Yesterday, we reported that acclaimed Japanese director Nagisa Ôshima died. The iconoclastic filmmaker pursued a path that was often considered taboo, explicit, and deviant — especially when compared to the traditionalists working alongside him throughout his career. Ôshima is probably best remembered for his 1976 historical drama, In the Realm of the Senses, which featured scenes of unsimulated sex between actors. Controversy and censorship followed, but it wasn’t his only dalliance with eroticism, and Ôshima continued to reveal the forbidden in his films, while shedding light on political and cultural grievances. Sexy is entirely subjective, and we wanted to remember other oft-forgotten foreign films that explored the provocative and erotic.
It would be easy to dismiss any film created by the director of the industrial erotic nightmare Tetsuo, the Iron Man as completely unsexy. The combination of metal and flesh can be off-putting. However, Japanese filmmaker Shin’ya Tsukamoto made a 2002 movie that some may find more erotic and still retains the dark, surrealist edge the director is famous for. Strikingly bathed in blue, A Snake of June follows the transformative sexual relationship of a couple. There’s an element of obsession, grimy paranoia, coercion, and Sadean philosophy and excess, but the erotic thriller is full of sexual tension (and eventual liberation) that recalls the best of Brian De Palma or David Cronenberg.