This rare retrospective of Japanese New Wave director runs from November 14th to December 5th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
the series is entitles IN THE REALM OF OSHIMA – the Best of Japanese Mater Nagasi Oshima. The title is taken form his most notorious and famous work IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES. I guarantee you would not forget the film, at least of its explicit sexual scenes.
The retrospective is made possible thanks to Nobi Nakamura,The Japan Foundation; Yukiko Wachi, Kawakita Memorial Film Institute; and Brian Belovarac, Janus Films.
For the complete programming, dates and description of each film screened, please check the TIFF website at: tiff.net
Capsule Reviews of Select Films:
CRUEL STORIES OF YOUTH (Japan 1960) ***
Directed by Nagisa Oshima
The title tells it all in Oshima’s tale of a young couple who prey on older men to make a living. Old men offer the girl a ride home but often take advantage of her by taking her to a bar for drinks or to a hotel. That is when the boyfriend shows up, beat the older man up and rob hm of his money. She falls for him and he slowly gets solve her. But things start getting heated to a boil when she becomes impregnated by him, and has an abortion. No one is to blame of these hard times. Youth like these two are restless and look for trouble. One problem could be the lack ambition of the two. Regardless, the girl makes an attempt at redemption the she encounters a kinder older gentleman who owns a company. CRUEL STORIES OF YOUTH has solid drama that depicts both the restlessness and rebelliousness of youth, but offers no solutions nor a way out.
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (Japan 1976) ****
Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Arguably Oshima’s best film but definitely the one that shot him to fame for its notoriety. This is the first Oshima film I have seen. In different countries the film was either banned, butchered, debated or denounced. It was banned in Ontario when it was first released. The film premiered in Cannes and was reported to cause quite a stir including riots. The story is supposedly based on a famous crime in 1936, a tale of sexual obsession so incredible that it has to be seen to be believed and then unforgotten. Sex and bondage take place between between man and woman, master and servant, individual and state, in which a maid murdered and castrated her employer after several days of sequestered lovemaking with him. The film is more disgusting than erotic and might turn one off sex for a spell. Be prepared for segments depicting hardcore sex so audiences beware!
VIOLENCE AT NOON (Japan 1966) ***1/2
Directed by Nagasi Oshima
VIOLENCE AT NOON is the portrayal of a violent rapist as seen through the recollections of his wife and one of his victims. As the film starts, Eisuke (Kei Sato) encounters Shino (Saeda Kawaguchi), who works as a maid in a house. She is a former coworker from a failed collective farm, whose life he once saved — only to rape her. Soon, Eisuke’s criminal pattern of rapes and murders emerges as he goes on assaulting women (Shino being the witness of one of them, as Eisuke tries to violate her employer). When cooperating with the police on making a description of the rapist, Shino withholds her crucial knowledge of his identity. She prefers writing letters to Eisuke’s dutiful wife, Matsuko, a schoolteacher (Akiko Koyama — Mrs Oshima), in order to expose his true nature and perhaps induce her into turning Eisuke over to the police. This film contains some intriguing discussions on the subject of suicide. “Why kill yourself? Why not kill someone instead?” This one one which makes complete sense, is quite a dangerous argument. Another: Can one die by staying awake?” Obviously yes, as one can live like a dead person. The VIOLENCE AT NOON are the acts committed by a serial killer who not only kills at that time, but leave similar markings. An intriguing film and worthwhile but not so easy a watch.