Thursday, June 18, 2009

Revision; Oshima

Hello all,

As some of you might have noticed over the past few months, I've been somewhat/extremely lax regarding the number of posts I do for this blog. While, yes, overall laxness had a part in this recent famine, I must also honestly say that certain other responsibilities that I regularly tend to contributed as well, basically leaving my poor blog to get lost in the shuffle.

So, I've decided to change to overall aims and style of Subtitle Literate. From now on, it won't be focused on rounded-out reviews only, partly because I already do plenty of those regularly for the wonderful Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow. Instead, this site will become lighter, more casual, and more...well, blog-like. My attention will still mainly be dedicated to world cinema, but my contributions here will be more along the lines of thoughts, remarks, observations and shared links/material. I'll still put in a full film review every now and then, but definitely not with every post.

So that's pretty much how the big change-of-course will go, and from this point on, I'll be sure to get a whole lot more postings out there more often.

With that said, let me move on to my first post-revision topic: the Japanese filmmaker Nagisa Oshima.

About a week ago, after having read so much about this legendary iconoclast and his work, I picked up what is possibly his most famous film: 1976's In the Realm of the Senses. Mainly known for its highly explicit (and unsimulated) sexuality, I still wasn't quite sure what to expect.

Ultimately, I was quite pleasantly surprised. The film was much richer than I originally expected, seeing as how its premise, surrounding an overpowering sexual obsession shared between a man and woman in 1930s Japan, is fairly simplistic. Also, refreshingly, it confirmed Oshima's reputation as a talented and highly intelligent artist, and made me extremely curious to see more of his films.

As a result, I'm kicking myself for not having taken advantage of the great Oshima retrospective the Cinematheque Ontario held last fall, especially considering how few of his films are available in North America. Still, there's the newly released Criterion DVD of Empire of Passion (considered to be a companion piece for In the Realm) for me to seek out, and I can still continue to learn more about Oshima and hope that, before too long, more of his films will find exposure to Western audiences.

Attached below are the trailers for 1969's Boy and his final film (which he made after suffering a stroke), 1999's Gohatto (and yes, that is Takeshi Kitano in the latter trailer; he got his first dramatic part in Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence starring David Bowie).

This post is part of the Japanese Cinema Blog-a-thon hosted by Wildgrounds.


starsweeper said...

That's a shame that you missed out on the Cinematheque Oshima retrospective. I saw Gishiki (The Ceremony, 1971) and Shonen (Boy, 1969) years ago when I was an undergrad at Western (on film!!) and have never had the opportunity to see them again. The images from the film have stayed with me all these years, the films were so rivetting. I hope that Criterion takes on ALL of Oshima's films not yet on DVD. It is beyond belief that they aren't more widely available.

Marc Saint-Cyr said...

Well, I recently read that Criterion in fact acquired the rights to nine of Oshima's films. If correct, that means we can expect seven more of his films to hit the shelves further down the road. I'm especially praying for Boy and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.