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Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Generation X

While this month may mark artcore's high tide on Tokyo screens, the wave has been building over the past few years. Here's a quick review of some of the more controversial and boundary-pushing films to have opened here within the past six months alone:

* "The Idiots." Directed by Lars Von Trier, this Dogma '95 film included graphic group sex. Von Trier has also established a production house that will make hardcore releases for female audiences, including a work in progress by Shu Lea Cheang.

* "Seul Contre Tous (I Stand Alone)." Director Gaspar Noe's aggressively controversial film included a penetration shot and the notorious "You have 30 seconds to leave the cinema" warning.

* "La Vie de Jesus" and "L'Humanite." A penetration shot and a full-screen genitalia closeup marked these otherwise ponderously artsy films by Bruno Dumont.

* S&M/Nikkatsu Roman Poruno revival. 2001 has seen a major reappraisal of these offbeat '70s and '80s skinflicks that now hover in the nether-ground between art and kitsch.

* "Happiness." Tod Solondz's scabrous comedy was a hot potato (dropped by its original U.S. distributor) for, among many sins, onscreen ejaculation (later deemed OK in the Hollywood comedy "There's Something About Mary"). Solondz's producers, Good Machine International -- who recently scored big with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- have started Uncensored Cinema for exploring sexual themes. Slated are new works by Hal Hartley, Lynne Ramsay ("Ratcatcher") and Gaspar Noe.

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