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The Noteworthy: R.I.P. Nagisa Oshima (1932-2013), The Formative Years of Cinema, Foreign Languages

The great Nagisa Oshima has passed away, Senses of CInema has a new World Poll, David Bordwell on the evolving cinema of 1908-1920, & more.

Edited by Adam Cook


  • One of the greatest Japanese directors, Nagisa Oshima, has passed away at the age of 80. Criterion remembers him in words and images.
  • The Berlin Film Festival has unveiled more details of its Panorama section and has announced some "Special" screenings.
  • Finds.

  • Above: David Bordwell on the "thirteen years that changed cinema": 1908-1920.
  • The Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded Holy Motors as the "Best Foreign-Language Film". Leos Carax wasn't present but provided them with a speech. Listen here, or read below:

"Hello, I'm Leos Carax, director of foreign-language films. I've been making foreign-language films my whole life. Foreign-language films are made all over the world, of course, except in America. In America, they only make non-foreign-language films. Foreign-language films are very hard to make, obviously, because you have to invent a foreign language instead of using the usual language. But the truth is, cinema is a foreign language, a language created for those who need to travel to the other side of life. Good night."

  • On Monday we shared a new commercial for Martell by James Gray, above is a behind-the-scenes featuring Gray himself. (Thanks to Otie Wheeler for the tip.)

"Tony Scott’s last three films - Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Unstoppable - comprise a loose, perhaps unintended trilogy. Scott’s intrepid filmmaking – which reveals the truth of his characters, even as they struggle to understand themselves – is perfect for the task of exploring psychology and emotion in the era of terrorism, disaster and paranoia. Because of his absolute refusal to console his audience, his abrasive, innovative style that initially suggests a lack of focus or maturity ultimately fosters an honest discussion about the trauma of the last decade."

From the archives.

  • In honor of Oshima, we have a couple great pieces from the past: firstly, Chuck Stephens' guide to essential Oshima (published in 2000) and, secondly, Dennis Lim's insightful NY Times article occasioned by a 2008 retrospective:

"To call these films products of their times does nothing to diminish their freshness. It is precisely because Mr. Oshima was so furiously engaged with his moment that his movies still have so much to say to ours."

Carax’s speech is perfect.
Part of me hopes that MUBI will do a series of essays on Oshima (entire critical loads could be blown just on EMPIRE OF PASSION), just like the ones it did on Tony Scott, but then part of me knows that any site that lavishes such critical attention on Tony Scott probably isn’t going to do more than give a passing node to Oshima’s death.
Mac, I share your hope / pessimism, but the Tony Scott project made sense to me because he is such an under-explored director, to say the least. While it would be very interesting to do something big on Oshima, there already is a wealth of texts about his work.
I wrote a bit on Oshima in the early days of the Notebook, too. Check the Nagisa Oshima tag. But yeah I echo Christoph, a lot has been written on him elsewhere.
as good a time as any to jump in on Oshima’s career. Ryuichi Sakamoto seemed very honest in this video.
Thanks for this, Zachary.

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