• Dutch Wife in the Desert screens at the U. of C. Film Studies Center on Saturday.

The “pink film” is a Japanese cinematic genre almost without analogue in American movies. English-language critics usually describe it as soft-core pornography; and while pink films trade in sexual content (and often in a sensational manner), they don’t exist solely to gratify spectators’ sexual fantasies. Historically the genre has afforded filmmakers a good deal of creative freedom. So long as he or she incorporates the necessary salacious elements, a pink-film director can take the film in any direction he or she pleases. The handful I’ve seen have been surprisingly varied, ranging from political satire to old-fashioned melodrama to formally daring art films. In fact one of Japan’s leading art filmmakers of the past few decades, the recently deceased Koji Wakamatsu, got his start in pink films.