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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:18 pm 
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Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

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Often called the Godard of the East, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima was one of the most provocative film artists of the twentieth century, and his works challenged and shocked the cinematic world for decades. Following his rise to prominence at Shochiku, Oshima struck out to form his own production company, Sozo-sha, in the early sixties. That move ushered in the prolific period of his career that gave birth to the five films collected here. Unsurprisingly, this studio renegade was fascinated by stories of outsiders—serial killers, rabid hedonists, and stowaway misfits are just some of the social castoffs you’ll meet in these audacious, cerebral entries in the New Wave surge that made Japan a hub of truly daredevil moviemaking.

Pleasures of the Flesh

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A corrupt businessman blackmails the lovelorn reprobate Atsushi into watching over his suitcase full of embezzled cash while he serves a jail sentence. Rather than wait for the man to retrieve his money, however, Atsushi decides to spend it all in one libidinous rush.

Violence at Noon

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Containing more than two thousand cuts and a wealth of inventive widescreen compositions, this coolly fragmented character study is a mesmerizing investigation of criminality and social decay.

Sing a Song of Sex

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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.

Japanese Summer: Double Suicide

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A sex-obsessed young woman, a suicidal man she meets on the street, a gun-crazy wannabe gangster—these are just three of the irrational, oddball anarchists trapped in an underground hideaway in Oshima’s devilish, absurdist film.

Three Resurrected Drunkards

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A trio of bumbling young men frolic at the beach. While they swim, their clothes are stolen and replaced with new outfits. Donning these, they are mistaken for undocumented Koreans and end up on the run from comically outraged authorities.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:26 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:50 pm
Don't know anything about Oshima or his films. But, damn, the descriptions merit a blind buy.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:38 pm 
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Having seen a little over a dozen of Oshima's films, I'm extremely excited that they decided to release these! What gets me more excited that I've only seen two of the films in the set so that means three more to discover!

"Pleasures of the Flesh" is probably my favorite Oshima and one of his most subversive. It's a microcosmic version of what was going on in Japan after their tremendous economic boom. It also helps that it's extremely funny and features some of his most carefully constructed cinematography.

"Japanese Summer: Double Suicide" is one I haven't seen since I caught it at the American Cinematheque a year ago and it's definitely worth watching again. It's a dark satire against the militaristic right-wing points of view, the refusal of sex as a means of revolution and Oshima's disgust at Japanese xenophobia. It certainly meant a lot to Oshima when Yukio Mishima didn't understand than film and if you seen it, you'll know why.

"Three Resurrected Drunkards" and "Violence at Noon" are suppose to be among his best, especially for "Violence at Noon"'s rapid editing which was the polar opposite of his "Night and Fog in Japan" (I believe there are only 57 cuts in the entire hour and a half.)

I'm going to assume their going to save "Night and Fog in Japan" and "Cruel Story of Youth" for regular Criterion releases. The dream is still to get his ATG films (which are among his best and most radical) releases in the state, but considering the rights issues with ATG, it'll never happen.

Maybe it's just my taste, but I've never cared for "In the Realm of the Senses" and find it weak compared to all his work from "A Town of Love and Hope" to "The Ceremony".

Between this, Brakhage on Blu, Stagecoach on Blu and Walkabout on Blu, it's going to be a month to go to the bank for.


Last edited by The Elegant Dandy Fop on Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:00 pm 
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Like Elegant Dandy, I've seen around a dozen but only two from the set.

Violence at Noon - Possibly one of my least favorite Oshima's, although admittadly I was pretty tired when I saw it so was probably not in the best condition for one of his films! But the problems I had at the time is I felt the huge number of cuts were unnecessary and ugly, I much prefer the glorious long and extreme long shots to be found in Japanese Summer or Night and Fog in Japan. Oshima seems to use a different visual style in each of his films, and even Dear Summer Sister which was almost all handheld and was messily put together - felt charming and completely controlled; perhaps this was due to the pretty location however. The drama in this film mainly plays out between three characters and I'm just not sure if the situation is dramatic enough to really involve you. Of course as I say I was very tired when I saw it, and I look forward to seeing this again and probably finding myself wrong!

Japanese Summer Double Suicide - if I had an all time Top Ten, I would have to put this in there.
Visually it reminds me a partially of Hiroshima mon Amour, and plot wise I can't really compare it to anything.
The film could keep the action confined to the barracks, but for the last half hour becomes a quest in an almost 'last man on earth' type world, and is all the better for it. It's hard to really collect my thoughts for this one, it just excels for me in every way. A collection of grotesque mercenaries and civilians waiting for a signal in a grubby military shed, each worried their going to be stabbed in the back by another at any moment. This had a great print when it did the rounds during the recent retrospective, so I have high hopes for the Eclipse.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:47 pm
All of these are, at the very least, interesting films. And at least two of them are masterpieces.

There isn't one boring film in Oshima's 60s period.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, this set features the first widescreen scope color film(s) of the Eclipse line.

A must-have set.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:10 pm 
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This means that A Street of Love and Hope will be in Oshima's mainline set, as the only (not counting Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) film with the Janus logo that appeared in various screening. Wish they had access to the Art Theatre Guild films or any company for that matter. Seems pretty hard to sort out the rights.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:45 pm 
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Like the others I am fortunate enough to have been able to see lots of Oshima but only one title in the set - Three Resurrected Drunkards, one of my favourites of his, a truly astounding work. Can't wait, to get my hands on the rest!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:23 pm
The descriptions sound REALLY intriguing, despite the fact that I wasn't all that thrilled with either In the Realm of the Senses or The Ceremony.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:05 pm 
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So if I absolutely LOVED Empire of Passion, would this be a good second buy?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:38 pm 
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Cinephrenic wrote:
This means that A Street of Love and Hope will be in Oshima's mainline set, as the only (not counting Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) film with the Janus logo that appeared in various screening. Wish they had access to the Art Theatre Guild films or any company for that matter. Seems pretty hard to sort out the rights.

No this is incorrect,
CJG wrote:
The PFA's Oshima retrospective schedule is now up.

The prints for these films are credited to Janus/Criterion Collection:

Night and Fog in Japan
Cruel Story of Youth
The Sun's Burial

Three Resurrected Drunkards
A Town of Love and Hope
In the Realm of the Senses
Empire of Passion
Double Suicide: Japanese Summer
Pleasures of the Flesh
Violence at Noon
A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Song
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

Clearly they also have the rights to Sing a Song of Sex, with speculation that they own 'The Ceremony' and possibly 'Boy'(?).

I think we'll see another Eclipse set with Cruel Story of Youth, The Sun's Burial, A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Song, A Town of Love and Hope , Night and Fog in Japan. With mainline releases for The Ceremony and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence



and mteller - The Ceremony certainly feels more pre-Realm of the Senses, than of that period; but it is in my eyes not as daring structurally, visually or politically as his pre- The Ceremony works. I strongly recommend getting this set, Oshima's a very interesting director to watch as far as auteur theory is concerned; he often uses the same actors, similar characters and situations, but in very different ways.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:45 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 5:31 pm
Peacock wrote:
Clearly they also have the rights to Sing a Song of Sex, with speculation that they own 'The Ceremony' and possibly 'Boy'(?).

Lovely as it would be to have yet more Oshima (all five of the titles in this Eclipse set are absolutely fantastic), Sing a Song of Sex and A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Song are one and the same film.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:48 pm 
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8-[ Oops! That makes sense


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:56 pm 
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I have never seen any of Oshima's films but I like Godard's filmography so how accurate and legitimate is the Godard of the East comparison?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:22 pm 
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A vicious angry Godard of the East, with less sympathy for most of his characters, and with a focus on the ways the Japanese Surrender affects a varied number of people.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Peacock wrote:
A vicious angry Godard of the East, with less sympathy for most of his characters, and with a focus on the ways the Japanese Surrender affects a varied number of people.

Basically, he's not Godard. The comparison always comes unwarranted. It's just an easy thing to throw out to grab people's attention.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:08 am 
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I was certain they were going to do an Eclipse of A Town of Love and Hope/Cruel Story of Youth/The Sun's Burial before anything else in this set, and I guess they still probably will (sooner or later, depending on how well this first set sells), as much as I'd like to see them get a mainline release instead. Lawrence will, of course, be mainline (and Blu too, surely), and my money's on Night and Fog in Japan geting the mainline (SD only) treatment as well; as zedz has said elsewhere, Fog screams out for context, a factor I think Criterion can (just) get away with ignoring viz the other early period Oshimas they control, but not this one. It probably all comes down to sales yet again, however, so I implore everyone to buy this Eclipse if they have even the faintest interest in Oshima/seeing the remaining CC-controlled titles get done up right.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:57 am 
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No, Criterion had stated that Oshima's 'Youth Trilogy' is most likely to be released on the mainline. Usually, this is referred to Night and Fog in Japan, The Sun's Burial and Cruel Story of Youth. But I've heard A Town of Love and Hope associated with it at times on the internet. Probably a informal trilogy anyhow. This was stated on Facebook a while back.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:05 am 
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What Cinephrenic says makes sense. If anything, I'd say that Criterion's decision to release this Eclipse set first among their Oshima titles demonstrates a serious commitment to release the rest of their Oshima catalog out on DVD, and it ups the odds of seeing full Criterion editions of his other films such as A Town of Love and Hope/Cruel Story of Youth/The Sun's Burial, and possibly Night and Fog in Japan.

Frankly, I was also relieved to see this current collection show up because there are already so many bootlegs and imported editions out there of all the titles in question that I was afraid that they might have started to question the market for them. Happily that wasn't the case.

With apologies to Sturges, it will be Christmas in May!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:39 am 
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Excellent line-up - definitely looking forward to this set (and the "youth trilogy" on the Criterion label whenever that should happen)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:41 am 
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Cinephrenic wrote:
No, Criterion had stated that Oshima's 'Youth Trilogy' is most likely to be released on the mainline. Usually, this is referred to Night and Fog in Japan, The Sun's Burial and Cruel Story of Youth. But I've heard A Town of Love and Hope associated with it at times on the internet. Probably a informal trilogy anyhow. This was stated on Facebook a while back.

Good to know. It just doesn't make much sense to me to lump Night and Fog in Japan in with those other three titles, which I'm certain are the three which constitute the Youth Trilogy proper (Fog, though it does deal with youth somewhat, has a much different style/focus/much more explicit political content), which is what makes me think Fog will be a seperate release (hopefully mainline as well).


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:29 am 
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Fantastic, an absolute no-brainer for me. "Violence at noon" is an unbelievably impressive and intense film, possibly my favourite Oshima so far, and I will be happy to dump my old copy taken from a VHS edition. And while I was able to see some rare 60s Oshimas, I don't have any of the other films. Looks like this year will be truly good for CC, and bad for my credit card.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:39 pm 
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Desser's discussion of Night and Fog in Japan intrigued me greatly so I surely hope it ends up as mainline CC. Until then I'm really looking forward to this one, too. Along with Nikkatsu Noir, CC is really helping me along with my Asian film interests.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:42 pm 
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Hmmm, that makes me wonder, when was the last time CC did a mainland Asia release? (India doesn't count)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:16 pm 
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It's too bad these weren't released as a Blu-ray set. That would have been sweeeeeeeeet. Either way, I like everyone else, am looking forward to this release with much enthusiasm. Let's just hope to god that they aren't picture-boxed.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:41 am 
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Anthony wrote:
It's too bad these weren't released as a Blu-ray set. That would have been sweeeeeeeeet. Either way, I like everyone else, am looking forward to this release with much enthusiasm. Let's just hope to god that they aren't picture-boxed.


All of the films in the Oshima set are in 'scope (2.35:1) and will be anamorphically enhanced for 16 X 9 displays, so that's unlikely to be the case. As far as I know, Criterion has only pictureboxed some of its 1.33:1 titles.


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