Beat Takeshi! David Bowie! Japanese! World War II! What else can do you want?!? Blu-ray? Criterion? We got you! It’s all thrown in a porcelain sake bottle and shaken violently. The result is the astonishingly (for me, surprisingly affecting) World War II drama, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. Directed by the highly acclaimed Japanese auteur Nagisa Ôshima (Realm of the Senses, Taboo, The Ceremony, Diary of a Shinjuku Thief and Pleasures of the Flesh) who writes, “My hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it.”
In his continued thumbing of all systems westerners love about Japan he goes on to construct a merciless portrait of Japanese warring classes in this film at once brilliant and reprehensibly violent. The Japanese are forever mulling over the love of all things Japanese, as is America. Samurai…love! Swords?….Awesome! Ôshima sees those things, the beauty and austerity of the wooden floored dojo and looks past any syrupy nostalgia for the real motive that is behind these old military customs and martial arts. Fear.
So! Deep in the steamy heart of the Javian jungle lies a Japanese military outpost ruled with a bamboo switch and a plethora of shiny Kitana’s on the eve of 1942…(click for full review at JapanCinema)