Ken Harrison 8:30 a.m., Nov. 18
Dig a hole: Nagisa Oshima
Director of "Cruel Story of Youth" and "In the Realm of the Senses" dead at 80
Japanese writer and director, Nagisa Oshima, died Tuesday afternoon at a hospital near Tokyo. He was 80.
Having seen but a handful of the 52 features, shorts, and television movies Oshima signed, there is no way that I can write about the man with much authority.
Having admired to such a great degree the few Oshima movies I did manage to see before moving to San Diego, when the situation arose to book clean copies of six of his films, I seized the opportunity to program a mini-Oshima retrospective while at MoPA.
My profound thanks and appreciation go out to the fourteen of you who attended.
From the outset, Oshima was never one to shun controversy. Cruel Story of Youth both embraces and ridicules its subject matter -- rebellious American teen pics of the ‘50’s -- with equal fervor. Dave Kehr credits the film with establishing Oshima “as the spokesman of a generation just entering the phase of postindustrial discontent.” It was his second feature. Less than one week after his fourth picture hit Tokyo screens, Shochiku withdrew the politically charged Night and Fog in Japan from distribution. In turn, Oshima turned his back on the studio and started his own production company, Sozosha, in 1965.
IMDB notes, "With other Japanese New Wave filmmakers like Masahiro Shinoda, Shôhei Imamura and Yoshishige Yoshida, Oshima reacted against the humanistic style and subject matter of directors like Yasujirô Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, as well as against established left-wing political movements."
Oshima is best known to American audiences for the sex-obsessed tale of a prostitute and her pimp, In the Realm of the Senses (1976). Audiences flocked to what they thought was a “dirty movie” only to be rewarded with one of the greatest feats of eroticism ever committed to film.
Oshima had been shuttled in and out hospitals since he was struck by a stroke in 1996. His last film, Taboo, a gay samurai epic, was released in 1999.
Here is the trailer to what amounts to the strangest Oshima movie I've seen. A diplomat's wife (Charlotte Rampling) enters into a meaningful love relationship with a chimpanzee in Max Mon Amour.