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In the Realm of Oshima

Saturday, June 20, 2009
6:30 p.m. The Sun’s Burial
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1960)

New Print

(Taiyo no hakaba). The conclusion of Oshima’s “youth trilogy,” The Sun’s Burial tells of life festering in the sprawling Osaka slums in the sweat of summer. Rival youth gangs scratch at a living, trying to keep one step ahead of a more sophisticated if seedy criminal organization by buying into their profitable racket, literally taking the blood of poor dockworkers in need of cash. On an anthill of grasping characters are Hanako (Kayoko Honoo), a steely vixen who lures men by night and draws blood by day, and Shin (Masahiko Tsugawa), the pouty gang leader who confides his secret desire to be gentler than he is. No hope of that. Oshima’s style here is provocative, lurid, reckless, and strangely beautiful; it was not clear who was the punk, Oshima or the criminals and nihilistic street kids who populated his films.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Oshima, Toshiro Ishido. Photographed by Ko Kawamata. With Kayoko Honoo, Isao Sasaki, Masahiko Tsugawa, Yusuke Kawazu. (87 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, ’Scope, 35mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Janus/Criterion Collection)