Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oshima's Outlaws


Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties: Eclipse Set 21 (Criterion) - Nagisa Oshima, best known for his hardcore 1976 exploration of sexual obsession, In the Realm of the Senses, famously said that he hated all Japanese cinema, and this boxed set concentrating on his most prolific period in the mid-60s underlines that anarchic attitude. The five films collected here--Pleasures of the Flesh, Violence at Noon, Sing a Song of Sex, Japanese Summer: Double Suicide, Three Resurrected Drunkards--are often playfully subversive narratives about characters decidedly outside the Japanese mainstream, and if the points of view are not entirely new or shocking (they are dated in many ways), formally they are filled with lots of innovative cutting and camerawork, from the famed 2000 edits in Violence to the re-run of the story halfway through in Drunkards. Oshima--whose last film, Gohatto, was released in 1999--would never again reach such breathtaking heights as here, no matter what his defenders say about his increasingly erratic ‘70s and ‘80s output. Criterion‘s Eclipse series does a valuable service releasing these films.
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