Nagisa Oshima, Violence at Noon (Hakuchu no torima), 1966, 35mm print, 99 minutes.

Confronting Sexuality, a Survey of One of Japan's Master Filmmakers

Nagisa Oshima, The Man Who Left His Will on Film.

Nagisa Oshima, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Night and Fog in Japan (Nihon no yoru to kiri), 1960, 35mm print, 107 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Taboo (Gohatto), 1999, 35mm, 100 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Furyo), 1983, 35mm print, in English and Japanese with English subtitles, 124 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Cruel Story of Youth (Seishun zankoku monogatari), 1960, 35mm print, 96 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Boy (Shonen), 1969, 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (Muri shinju: Nihon no natsu), 1967, 35mm print, 98 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Violence at Noon (Hakuchu no torima), 1966, 35mm print, 99 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima

Nagisa Oshima, The Ceremony (Gishiki), 1971, 35mm print, 123 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Shinjuku dorobo nikki), 1968, 35mm print, 96 minutes.

 

Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave.
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In the Realm of Oshima
The Films of Japanese Master Nagisa Oshima

November 5-23, 2008

By JAMES QUANDT

Nagisa Oshima is one of Japan’s master filmmakers — and arguably one of its most controversial. His work is filled with conventionbreaking, from his aesthetic (he adheres to a palette excluding the color green) to the subjects he tackles (the overt sexuality of his celebrated In the Realm of the Senses and male affection in the world of the samurai in Taboo).

While Oshima mines universal themes of youth, passion, sexuality, and death, his characters generally inhabit worlds that defy authority — petty criminals, anti-occupation protestors, empire resistors.

His innovative cinematic approach to such subjects has governed his long career. Born in 1932 and beginning work as a director in 1959, he made his early films when Japanese youth were adrift, rebellious, and eager to oppose the older generation’s values.

His films reflect Japan’s loss in World War II, focusing on life under occupation and progression toward economic prowess. In turn, he rejected classical Japanese cinema’s embrace of aestheticism, emblematic of the acknowledged masters Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, and Ozu.

Innovative also in his rejection of the notion of genre, Oshima never settled on a definitive style but remained contemporary throughout his career, using history as a framework for understanding the present.

“By turns agitprop and lyrically beautiful, [Oshima’s work] restores our sense of film history … he pioneered modernism in Japanese cinema” (New York Times).

Oshima has received myriad awards throughout his career, beginning with the prestigious Japanese Blue Ribbon Award in 1961 as Best New Director, then another Blue Ribbon in 2000 as Best Director for Taboo

He’s been nominated for the Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or five times, winning once. This touring retrospective presents a rare opportunity to reflect upon films from this infamous and acclaimed Japanese auteur, most shown on new 35mm prints.

All films are directed by Nagisa Oshima and presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Unless otherwise noted, films are screened in the Cinema and tickets are $8 ($6 Walker members and University of Minnesota students).

Nagisa Oshima:
The Reluctant Samurai

Much parsed and puzzled over, Shohei Imamura’s famous pronouncement, “I’m a country farmer; Nagisa Oshima is a samurai” may be ambiguous in tone and intent — is it ironic, invidious, deferential? — but it emphasizes the directors’ differences: class, stylistic, and otherwise.

Often paired as twin avatars of the Japanese New Wave, a term Oshima (born in Kyoto, 1932) took every opportunity to spurn and disparage, the two fit uncomfortably in that “movement” and with each other. Sharing formal and social audacity, a brilliant ability to exploit the widescreen format, a rejection of the refined and self-sacrificing tenor of traditional Japanese cinema, a propensity for mixing fiction and reality, and certain key themes — sex and criminality, the abuse and resilience of women, incest, the social fissures of postwar Japan, the aggravated acts of outcasts in a tightly battened monoculture — Imamura and Oshima nevertheless can be construed as contraries, if not opposites. (It would be illuminating to pair certain of their films: Imamura’s A Man Vanishes with Oshima’s The Man Who Left His Will on Film; Pigs and Battleships with The Sun’s Burial; Vengeance Is Mine with Violence at Noon.)

Where Imamura made defiantly “messy” and “juicy” (his preferred terms) films that celebrated the irrational, the instinctual, the carnal, squalid, violent, and superstitious life of Japan’s underclass,

Oshima’s films are primarily ideational, probing, and controlled even when anarchic (e.g. Three Resurrected Drunkards). Which is not to say they are dry (as opposed to juicy) or cerebral. Even at their most complex — the densely structured Night and Fog in Japan, for instance, all but dictates a second viewing. Oshima’s works exhibit such wit, beauty, and furious invention, never mind profound feeling, that their conceptual gambits take on sensual and emotional force. They are less the product of a postmodernist sensibility, as some critics have characterized Oshima’s strategies, than of a desperate intelligence. Oshima made films as if they were a matter of life and death.

“I do not like to be called a samurai,” Oshima said, perhaps contending with Imamura’s dictum, “but I admit that I have an image of myself as fighter. I would like to fight against all authorities and powers.”

Rejecting the aristocratic lineage and traditional Japanese culture that the samurai appellation implies, Oshima instead emphasizes its warrior import. Appropriately so: from his first film forward, Oshima was a fighter, less a maverick than an insurgent, rebelling against every myth, tradition, and piety of Japan Inc. (Fond of polemics, he sometimes dismissed the entirety of Japanese cinema.)

Though born into privilege, the son of a government worker in Kyoto (reportedly of samurai ancestry), Oshima was a nascent socialist whose ideals were formed in his youth by the general strike of 1947; the Pacific War, Emperor Hirohito’s capitulation after the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent American occupation of Japan; and the mass student struggle against the Korean War and, most markedly, against ampo

Japan’s security pact with cold war America.  Steeped in Marxist and Freudian thought from his father’s prodigious library, Oshima opposed using ideological systems to probe his nation’s psyche: “I am not a Marxist,” he insisted. “In fact, I find Marxism and Christianity to be the same thing and both of them are bad.”

So thorough-going was Oshima’s rejection of dogma that he mocked doctrinaire activist-filmmakers in The Man Who Left His Will on Film, one of whom rotely declares that the last filmed images left by a dead comrade portend “the end of a petit-bourgeois unable to achieve proletarian consciousness;” or vented his bitter disappointment at the failure of leftist progressives to effect change by making Langian doubles of men who are actually ideological foes in the brilliant, acrimonious Night and Fog in Japan.

Both men, Oshima implies, are impotent, too caught up in internecine skirmishes to attend to the real struggle for political change in Japan, to give voice and power to all those “left out” by the country’s postwar economic miracle, its stultifying political system and cultural conformity.

Oshima’s fierce determination to expunge from his own art the signifiers of that national obeisance led to his initial shunning of traditional shots of the sky or of people sitting on tatami mats, and, most famously, his banishment of the colour green from his films as a “too comforting” hue – it “softens the heart,” he averred — because of its association with nature, with the traditional Japanese garden and its proximity to the consolations of home. (Is it too literal to note also his aversion to the “deep green worn by the American army and then by the occupation forces that we Japanese became accustomed to seeing,” which he associated with the repression of Korea and, later, the Vietnam War, described in his essay, Are the Stars and Stripes a Guardian Deity?)

Green forbidden as insidious or anodyne, red would become the marker of Oshima’s dire vision of Japan, not only in the motif of the Japanese flag, the Hinomaru with its burning sun, repeatedly invoked and maligned in the director’s films, but also in the many objects keyed to carmine in his extravagant color films. (Think of the first burst of colour in the hitherto black-and-white Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, the incarnadine bedroom of the young lovers and the glowing red tent theatre of the kabuki troupe, the “cherry blossom” stain left on the sheets by Umeko’s deflowering and the blood later poured down her leg and splashed on the fake decapitated head.)

“The blood of this young boy dyes all of Japan red,” claimed the trailer for Boy. In the mother’s red sweater and dyed hair, the little girl’s red boot and forehead wound, the ubiquitous Japanese flags and various red objects given prominence in the Scope screen, Boy joins such scarlet-scored films as Nick Ray’s Party Girl, Godard’s Pierrot le fou, and Bresson’s Le Diable probablement (screening on December 3), each a portrait of moral drift, corruption, suicide.

Of course, red most readily represents blood, the stuff of life, which is defiled, bought and sold in the black market in The Sun’s Burial or, conversely, the deathly apotheosis of sexual passion (the sluice of blood that ends the cloistered lovemaking in In the Realm of the Senses).

Extremity defined Oshima’s vision, and his stylistics: Night and Fog in Japan was shot in only 47 long takes, while the cutting in Violence at Noon came on like a Kurosawa hail of arrows: over two thousand edits, several used for one short sequence. (The long takes in Cruel Story of Youth and The Catch have been compared to Mizoguchi’s.)

Oshima’s earliest films were mostly shot in the widescreen and colour formats then favoured by Japanese studios, but he would readily retreat to the old-fashioned mode of black and white and 1.37 square aspect ratio for others. (New Wave compatriot Teshigahara strangely maintained this retro format for all his films, through Face of Another.)

Oshima was wont to use extreme long shot or obscuring chiaroscuro to shoot some important events, or to develop an unbearable intimacy using relentless close-ups, as in The Man Who Left His Will on Film, whose images of fleshy confinement offer another instance of the claustrophobia of Oshima’s cinema, which often features shut-off or isolated settings, most markedly the love-making room in Realm and the execution chamber in Death by Hanging.

“I always try to deny the style I used in a previous work … I never make films in the same style,” Oshima told Joan Mellen, which helps account for his swing from Nick Ray histrionics or the kino-fist aesthetic of Sam Fuller (Cruel Story of Youth and The Sun’s Burial) to the refined modernism of Resnais or Antonioni  (The Ceremony), from stern alienation effects (Night and Fog in Japan) to pop-modernist playfulness (Three Resurrected Drunkards), all the while maintaining his singular sensibility. Oshima told another interviewer: “I have to agree with someone like Ozu who said that he could only make ‘tofu’ movies. Bean curd was the only thing he knew how to cook and so he could not make a ‘beefsteak’ movie … I feel that what I’ve been doing in my films, perhaps, is something much closer to making sake. Sometimes my films approach the full blends and rich flavour that the sake should have, and at other times they’re very raw and they become the kind of sake that burns your throat as it goes down.”

Throat-burning mostly. The director instantly became a pariah with his first film, the cheerily named Town of Love and Hope. Not only was the title forced on him by the Shochiku studio – Oshima preferred his blunt original,

The Boy Who Sold His Pigeon — but the director was also expected to hew to the studio’s popular Ofuna-style family melodrama in his tale of a poor boy befriended by a rich girl. (The scam by which the boy supports his family introduced themes of extortion, imposture, crime, delinquency into Oshima’s cinema; the director’s clear-eyed sympathy with the cheating boy — the first of many self-portraits, which include the pimply Motoki in The Man Who Left His Will on Film, and even, Oshima insisted, “that demonic rapist in broad daylight” of Violence at Noon — established his identification with young outcasts and criminal aliens, which would define his subsequent cinema.) Oshima delivered neither the optimistic humanism demanded by the studio, nor the prescribed social message. “This film is saying that the rich and the poor can never join hands,” studio head Shiro Kido fumed, suspending the director for six months and declaring Town unhealthy and leftist. When Oshima returned to Shochiku to make two subsequent films in the popular “sun tribe” genre about disaffected youth, their tonal temerity and colour-coded desolation came as a bitter surprise — The Sun’s Burial has to rank with cinema’s great visions of hell — even if Kon Ichikawa had taken the genre into darkest territory half a decade earlier with Punishment Room. Hand Oshima a genre — the samurai film in Shiro Amakusa, The Christian Rebel, and again in Gohatto, the family chronicle in The Ceremony, anime in Band of Ninja — and, while ostensibly observing its conventions, he would twist it to reflect his own concerns.

Those concerns centred on sex, crime, and death. Oshima’s familiarity with Freud, Marx, and, one infers, Marcuse — the latter’s Eros and Civilization invoked in Imamura’s Intentions of Murder, so obviously “current” in Japan at the time — tempts one to read their influence in Oshima’s cardinal themes of human desire in conflict with social codes and strictures; of  freedom sought through criminality, sexual abandon, or social revolution; of compulsion and stymied rebellion. But Oshima’s sensibility is too intuitive, anti-ideological, and steeped in Japanese culture to deduce their thinking in any systematic way. It was, Oshima insisted, the “unaware” and unconscious nature of both sex and crime that made them the central obsessions of his cinema; “behaviour with clear motivation is uninteresting,” he insisted. However, the enticement of psychology, of biographical reduction, when interpreting his films is great. To abridge Oshima’s early work to a vast psychodrama of parental abandonment would be unconscionable, but when Oshima says, “I always want to go back to my boyhood” because of the loss of his father at age six — a deprivation he wrote movingly about in an essay — one wonders if that familial yearning could help explain the many incomplete and broken households in his cinema, the previously mentioned preponderance of children, adolescents, teens, few of them innocent, all participants in or witnesses to the criminal world of adults. (Note, for instance, the marked presence of children at the communal evils committed in The Catch.) The stark title of Boy emphasizes this violation, the film’s manipulation of scale and repeated disconnection of the supposedly unified family within the widescreen frame — Oshima was the master of the decentered Scope composition, along with his New Wave comrade Yoshishige Yoshida — stressing the boy’s isolation and vulnerability. Similarly, Oshima describes the harsh world of the amoral teens in Cruel Story of Youth in Scope images of the abject and precarious: an intensely compacted composition of Makoto’s midriff in plaid skirt, a wad of bills and sheet of directions to an abortionist clutched in her hand, or the rape among the logs in Tokyo harbour, a travesty of the traditional understanding of “the floating world,” rendered with virtuosic but unstable travelling camera. (Oshima’s hand-held pans and tracking shots sometimes judder, not to signify authenticity but to transcribe his characters’ restless, tenuous existence.)

Just as he rejected the Japanese New Wave rubric, Oshima chafed at the inevitable comparisons critics made between his films and Godard’s. Though he would politely respond to questions about the latter’s influence with evasive statements about shared enthusiasms and  common concerns (predominantly politics and cinema), he took to calling Godard “the Oshima of France” after one too many comparisons or accusations of being a JLG imitator. The similarities between the two run to a substantial list — none diminishing Oshima’s originality, it must be emphasized — but in hindsight, Oshima seems to have as much affinity with Fassbinder in his prolificacy and swift, single-take shoots (look at his output in years 1960 or 1968 alone!); his sometimes sentimental sympathy for outsiders — sexual, ethnic (particularly Koreans), and political; his development of a “house” technical and acting troupe employed in film after film; his use of music as alienation device and such Brechtian strategies as the intertitles in Death by Hanging or the theatrical friezes in Night and Fog in Japan; and his acerbic view of human nature and how sex often subverts both emotion and politics.

In his “international” period, Oshima seemed to mellow as a modernist, taking on the suave tone of late Buñuel (a director he once claimed as his favourite) in Max Mon Amour, or reviving the methods of the traditional Japanese cinema he once utterly abjured in the deep focus and use of wipes in Empire of Passion and the duel on a soundstage misty marsh at the end of Gohatto. Critics have argued over whether Oshima remained an iconoclast or succumbed to nostalgia, but surveying a gay samurai film, a brittle comedy of manners about a diplomat’s wife in love with a chimp, and a legendary work of hard-core sexual transgression, it’s a little difficult to cast Oshima as a Mizoguchi manqué. Perhaps Oshima provided the clue for this transition: love became the third element in his cinema, he commented, along with sex and crime.

Nagisa Oshima, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), 1976, 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Death by Hanging (Koshikei), 1968, new 35mm print, 117 minutes.

Nagisa Oshima, Pleasures of the Flesh (Etsuraku), 1965, new 35mm print, 104 minutes.

Tatsuya Fuji as Toyoji and Kazuko Yoshiyuki as Seki in Nagisa Oshima's Empire of Passion.

Maki Takayuma as Kiku and Kenzo Kawarazaki as Masuo in Nagisa Oshima's The Ceremony.

Kenzo Kawarazaki as Masuo in Nagisa Oshima's The Ceremony.

Kazuo Goto in Nagisa Oshima's The Man Who Left His Will on Film.

Emiko Iwasaki in Nagisa Oshima's The Man Who Left His Will on Film.

Nagisa Oshima's Diary of a Shinjuku Thief.

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Taboo (Gohatto)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
The series opens with Oshima’s most recent film. Set within a Shogunate militia in 1865 Kyoto, this stylized drama follows samurai warriors, known for their ruthless violence, as an androgynously handsome youth joins the elite squad and sets off an internal battle for his affections.

Takeshi “Beat” Kitano and Ryuhei Matsuda return to work on what might stand as the director’s final film. 1999, 35mm, 100 minutes.

Friday, November 7, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Cruel Story of Youth
(Seishun zankoku monogatari)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Introduction and post-screening discussion led by Mark Anderson, Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota.

This dispassionate tale finds a pair of middle-class Tokyo teenagers tangled up in a racket to extort money from older men who try to pick up young girls. Their aimlessness and narcissism prove an indictment of young people losing sight of collective activism, as Oshima uses old newsreel footage to compare the self-indulgences of the teens to the disillusion of slightly older student activists. This was Oshima’s first major box-office hit in Japan. 1960, new 35mm print, 96 minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008
2 p.m.
Violence at Noon
(Hakuchu no torima)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Addressing the collapse of idealism in postwar Japan, Oshima constructs a crime film among the former residents of a commune.

Based on a true story from the 1950s, the director’s brilliant cinematography and spirited editing capture a serial rapist and murderer haunted by his past while tormenting those in the present. 1966, new 35mm print, 99 minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Japanese Summer: Double Suicide
(Muri shinju: Nihon no natsu)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Two seemingly different characters share a deadly attraction in Oshima’s gloriously colorful Cinemascope crime thriller.

The central character, Otoko, suffers a paranoid delusion that someone is out to kill him, but loses focus when he falls into a torrid relationship. The distractions of love-making, television, toys, and pop culture suck the life from the couple. 1967, new 35mm print, 98 minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Boy (Shonen)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Based on a true story from 1966, Boy was considered a shocking assault on the traditional set of Japanese family values by which parents dote on their children.

Trained by his parents to throw himself in front of moving cars, a boy fakes injury while his parents press the driver for cash. Their scheme works and the boy considers this to be normal, not realizing his parents’ exploitative practices. 1969, new 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Thursday, November 13
7:30 p.m.
The Sun's Burial
(Taiyo no hakaba)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Oshima presents a gritty view of Japan’s underworld with a broad swipe at the image of Japan as the “land of the rising sun.

” Two gangs — a young, ragtag crew and an organized older band of yakuza — vie to control the black market, prostitution, and other dirty dealings in an Osaka slum. 1960, new 35mm print, 87 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Night and Fog in Japan
(Nihon no yoru to kiri)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Using the wedding of two leftists as a metaphor, this film shows the idealism and betrayal of two generations of protesters.

Reflecting the failed ambition of Oshima’s generation and the demonstrations of 1960, political squabbling taints the celebration amid arguments over commitment to the movement and the sell-out of many in the older generation. The studio pulled the film from distribution after only a few days in release, to the fury of the director, who then started his own production company. 1960, new 35mm print, 107 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Pleasures of the Flesh (Etsuraku)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Mixing the search for erotic pleasure with the violent world of the yakuza, Oshima creates a morality play on the downfall of a man. Entrusted to hide a fortune embezzled by an imprisoned official, a man blows the money on prostitutes and soon finds himself in hot water with the mob. 1965, new 35mm print, 104 minutes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008
2 p.m.
Death by Hanging (Koshikei)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Introduction and post-screening discussion led by Christopher Scott, Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, Macalester College. Based on the real incident of a Korean youth found guilty of raping a Japanese schoolgirl, Oshima exposes prejudice against Koreans within the criminal justice system. The blatant racism shown in the investigation shows how due process is ill-served, especially when the defendant is facing death for his alleged crime. 1968, new 35mm print, 117 minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
7:30 p.m.
The Catch (Shiiku)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Introduction and post-screening discussion led by Michael Molasky, Professor, Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota. One of Oshima’s two film adaptations set during World War II, The Catch shows how perceived differences between the Japanese and others perpetuated conflict. In this case, an African American pilot who was shot down is kept in the basement of a storehouse by a group of cruel children who found him. His race becomes a major source of interest among villagers who have had little contact with Westerners. 1961, new 35mm print, 105 minutes.

Thursday, November 20
7:30 p.m.
A Town of Love and Hope
(Ai to kibo no machi)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Introduction and post-screening discussion led by Noboru Tomonari, Associate Professor, Japanese, Asian Languages and Literatures, Carleton College.One of Oshima’s earliest films examines the class struggle in Japan. A poor enterprising teen sells homing pigeons to unsuspecting customers as pets—only to have the birds return so he can sell them again—until his rich girlfriend gets wise to his scam. 1959, 35mm, 62 minutes.

Thursday, November 20
7:30 p.m.
Diary of a Yunbogi Boy
(Yunbogi no nikki)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Told through a series of still photos shot by the director (similar in style to Chris Marker’s La Jetée), the film combines the writings of a Korean boy abandoned by his family in Japan to show the struggles of the country’s ethnic minority. 1965, 16mm, 30 minutes.

Friday, November 21, 2008
7:30 p.m.
In the Realm of the Senses
(Ai no corrida)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Still haunting film history after 30 years, this film remains on the forefront of cinematic portrayals of love, sex, pain, and death. Frequently referenced for breaking new ground, it is also the most notorious of the director’s works. Oshima shot the film in Japan but sent the footage to France for processing and editing to escape censorship. The audience is the voyeur to the narrative of on-screen sex and violence. 1976, new 35mm print, 105 minutes. Viewer discretion is advised.

Saturday, November 22, 2008
2 p.m.
The Ceremony (Gishiki)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Oshima’s damning film on the traditions and sanctity of the Japanese family encompasses many generations over several decades. As the Kazuomi family gathers for various ceremonies—weddings, funerals, anniversaries—the emptiness of their claustrophobic gatherings and commitment to keeping up appearances is exposed. The strict patriarch of the family insists on order and obedience at all costs, causing subsequent generations to crack under the pressure. 1971, new 35mm print, 123 minutes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
(Furyo)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Set in a Japanese prison camp in 1942 and based on the novel The Seed and the Sower by Laurens van der Post, the film investigates a confrontation of enemies when a newly transferred British military officer (David Bowie) clashes psychologically, culturally, and physically with the camp’s commander (Ryuichi Sakamoto), who becomes infatuated with him. The unforgettable sound track was composed by Sakamoto. 1983, new 35mm print, in English and Japanese with English subtitles, 124 minutes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008
2 p.m.
Diary of a Shinjuku Thief
(Shinjuku dorobo nikki)

Directed by Nagisa Oshima
One of Oshima’s most provocative films is set amidst the backdrop of the 1968 Zengakuren demonstrations against American bases in Japan, paralleling the May riots in Paris. Japanese radicals explore a somewhat distorted dream of liberation through the dynamics of politics, sexuality, and the newfound exuberance of youth culture. A woman posing as a bookstore assistant catches a thief in the act, then takes him on a bizarre, dizzying escapade. 1968, new 35mm print, 96 minutes.

Katsuo Nakamura in Nagisa Oshima's Pleasures of the Flesh, 1965, 2:35:06.