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Sono Retro

by Alex Engquist Retrospective

The Land of Hope | Sion Sono

Only in a filmography as stylistically restless and formally anarchic as Sion Sono’s would a somber family drama like The Land of Hope be considered a radical departure. Made in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and ensuing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, Sono’s film…

August 23, 2016
by Sean Gilman Retrospective

Love Exposure | Sion Sono

Sion Sono’s Love Exposure is an epic, four-hour romantic comedy about terrible fathers, upskirt photography, Catholicism, and the meaning of love. Where Sono’s Bicycle Sighs could be categorized as a fairly typical minimalist art film, and his Suicide Club firmly entrenched itself in the millennial wave of Japanese horror, Love…

August 22, 2016
by Daniel Gorman Retrospective

Cold Fish | Sion Sono

One task of the critic is to place a film within the context of its artist’s entire body of work, looking for recurring themes, motifs, obsessions, etc. But the sheer breadth of Sion Sono’s filmography—coupled with those films’ sporadic (at best) distribution—leaves the average viewer…

August 19, 2016
by Carson Lund Retrospective

Be Sure to Share | Sion Sono

An anomalous tearjerker from Sion Sono couched between some of the director’s most outré genre eruptions, Be Sure to Share channels Sono’s own grief over the loss of his father into a modest tale of filial piety renewed against the backdrop of terminal cancer. Shiro…

August 19, 2016
by Veronika Ferdman Retrospective

Exte: Hair Extensions | Sion Sono

When the director of a film is also its screenwriter it’s relatively safe to assume that what you’re watching—outside interference notwithstanding—is a story that they actually wanted to tell. It then becomes endlessly amusing to consider what it must be like to wake up every…

August 18, 2016
by Chris Mello Retrospective

Noriko’s Dinner Table | Sion Sono

Though it sports a few grisly images of its own, Noriko’s Dinner Table borrows most of its bloodshed from its companion film, Suicide Club. Sono repurposes the opening of his breakthrough—during which 54 high school students jump in front of an oncoming train—several times here,…

August 17, 2016
by 
Drew Hunt Retrospective

Strange Circus | Sion Sono

Pull any Sion Sono movie off the shelf and chances are somebody somewhere has called it his “most extreme.” With a filmography as pervasively perverse and profane as Sono’s, one could place such a distinction on almost any title and probably be correct in…

August 17, 2016
by Kent M. Beeson Retrospective

Hazard | Sion Sono

If there’s one word that beats at the heart of the violent, restless Hazard, Sion Sono’s 11th film, it’s “transcendence.” Nominally a crime story about a Japanese college student named Shinichi (Jo Odagiri) who falls in with the wrong crowd on the mean streets of New…

August 16, 2016
by Jake Mulligan Retrospective

Into a Dream | Sion Sono

An early moment in Sion Sono’s 2005 feature Into a Dream finds dorama actor Mutsugoro Suzuki (Tatsushi Tanaka) attending a low-budget Japanese-language staging of A Streetcar Named Desire, one marked by experimental acting and deliberately unreal conceits of staging. Suzuki joins a number of the performers after…

August 15, 2016
by Sean Gilman Retrospective

Suicide Club | Sion Sono

Suicide Club opens with a montage of the city at night: documentary realist footage of pedestrians moving through Tokyo, on and off of trains and through stations, is scored to a peppy martial beat. Then, in a dreadful instant, the familiar tropes of the…

August 15, 2016
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