Four sexually hungry high school students prepare for their university entrance exams in Oshima’s hypnotic, free-form depiction of generational political apathy, featuring stunning color cinematography.
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This was my first Oshima film, and prompted me to watch nothing but Oshima for over a month, but I was always disappointed. Still, the eclipse set is worth it just for this movie! A perfect blend of surrealism, philosophy, rebellion, and Japanese history!
Comic and sinister, decentered in tone, intentionally unreadable; a stochastic and Brechtian treatise on anthropology, idealism, and sexual imagination/violence. Not his strongest, but by turns difficult and impressive in its freeform discourse; Oshima expresses a great amount of scorn for political, cinematic, and sexual convention, as well as narrative determinism. Includes the most farcical rape episode possible.
The problem I have with Oshima's early works are how quickly the ideas is exhausted. "Sing A Song of Sex," "Violence at Noon" and "Pleasures of the Flesh" all start out with interesting ideas and themes but they struggle to keep the flow of the story evenly distributed throughout the movie. I don't think Oshima's films reached a level of greatness until the late 70s.
I guess this is Oshima's idea of a musical, where often times two different music are sung simultaneously. Like the music, the movie is about many thing at once, but fascinating because of its density in both theme and style. The snowy landscape in the opening sequence is unforgettable.
Tournée avec des acteurs amateurs, sur un vague canevas scénaristique remanié quotidiennement, en laissant libre cours à une large improvisation, cette oeuvre disparate se manifeste comme parfaitement maîtrisée, dépassant l'apparente focalisation sur les récurrentes obsessions adolescentes, pour stigmatiser, entre autres, avec ironie et constance, les sombres résurgences nationalistes du pays.
2.5-3 stars. Most of the male characters are indistinct from one another; that's not to say I would have problems if their backstories followed the same patterns or they were paralleled in earnest with one another. We just know so little about them, save for what they represent thematically. It's a fascinating and inventive movie, but it also feels incomplete.