Nagisa Oshima

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Empire Of Passion Review


OK
Love does funny things to men. Logic and reason go out the window to satisfy an emotional craving -- up is down, together is apart, and death is life. To quench Toyoji and Seki's lustful thirst in Empire of Passion, it means killing Seki's alcoholic, rickshaw-pulling husband and then barely seeing each other for three years. If that weren't bad enough, the locals are starting to talk, and the ghost of Seki's husband begins showing up in dreams. Set in a small Japanese village in the late 1800s, Empire of Passion's bizarre passion is thinly veiled by its kaidan story. Western eyes would likely equate the pale-faced, dark-hair apparition to the ghouls of popular J-horror, but traditional kaidan play more on a character's writhing guilt than on typical cinematic scares -- Seki's husband, Gisaburo, doesn't crawl out of any TVs or screech like a cat (he does, however, escape the well that Toyoji and Seki used to dispose of him). Before horror fans start lapping at the freshly spilled blood, Empire of Passion's ghost story is a diversion from Toyoji and Seki's shocking and, at times, brutal sexual relationship.

Gisaburo was always in the way of Toyoji and Seki, but murder wasn't an option until Toyoji decided to restrain Seki and shave her. Of course, Gisaburo would eventually see Seki's smoothness and know that she's been with another man. And that just won't do. The interesting thing isn't that the two commit the murder together, but that Toyoji's single, selfish desire of the flesh motivates it. When he's with Seki, he's only concerned with dominating her submissiveness. His lustful passion blinds him to the consequences of his actions. And the trouble for the two lovers, and the film alike, begins with Gisaburo's death.

Continue reading: Empire Of Passion Review

Taboo Review


Excellent
It's been 25 years since Japanese director Nagisa Oshima shocked international audiences with In the Realm of the Senses, his lurid look at a sadomasochistic couple that loses all abandon and commits a carnal act never before captured on the big screen: one lover cuts off the other's penis.

New Yorker Films is hyping the similarity between Senses and Oshima's latest work, Taboo, saying the new film, "like... Senses, deals with the anti-authoritarian sway of sexuality, a nearly taboo subject in Japan."

Continue reading: Taboo Review

In The Realm Of The Senses Review


Weak
This watershed Japanese film is -- make no mistake -- borderline porn, with endless and explicit shots of male genitalia, insertions galore, and bodily fluids. The story is a simple one of lust and love (you decide which), with a couple (a man and his servant) falling hopelessly in love and experimenting with numerous sexual varieties, from domination to asphixiation and more. Typical moment: The dude inserts a hard-boiled egg into his girlfriend's privates, and she later asks him to eat it. But I don't know what's weirder: That an elderly geisha plays a stringed lute of some kind during most of their trysts, or that the girl later asks the guy to screw her. Creepy.

Continue reading: In The Realm Of The Senses Review

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Nagisa Oshima Movies

Taboo Movie Review

Taboo Movie Review

It's been 25 years since Japanese director Nagisa Oshima shocked international audiences with In the...

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