Sion Sono

Why Don

With digital quickly overtaking 35mm film as the dominant acquisition and distribution format for major motion pictures, it’s no surprise that filmmakers would be moved to reminisce about the magic of film. Martin Scorsese dipped his foot in both pools with his digitally-shot 3D film Hugo, which showcased the artistry of early film pioneer George Melies. And Holy Motors, from French director Leos Carax, touched on the emotion and communal experience of cinema among a plethora of other themes. So it seems only natural that Sion Sono‘s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, unfolds like a love letter to the format with which we all first fell in love. The Fuck Bombers are the best damn cinema club in all of Japan and they are going to make a great movie…one day. Lead by the enthusiastic director Hirata, the Fuck Bombers make their own movies on 8mm. Tanigawa does the best handheld shots while Miki is the best at dolly shots accomplished by wearing roller skates. But the crew finds their final puzzle piece when a fight breaks out near their film shoot one day and they meet Sasaki, who Hirata is sure will be the next great action star. At the same time, a yakuza feud spills into the urban sprawl when members of the Kitagawa clan attack yakuza boss Taizo Muto’s family in their home. Unfortuantely for them, Muto’s wife Shizue was the only one home and she dispatched her would-be attackers with vengeance. The police […]

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whydontyouplayinhell

For a lot of people, including me, hearing that Sion Sono has a new film is enough to sell the ticket. Doesn’t matter the title, doesn’t matter who’s starring, doesn’t matter the story. After Noriko’s Dinner Table, Love Exposure and Cold Fish, he’s proven himself as a visionary that’s nearly peerless in the kinds of films that he’s making — exploring identity and moral downfalls in fascinating ways. And now he’s taking on The Yakuza. In Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, Sono tosses an amateur film crew in the middle of an ongoing grudge match between two crime lords in what he calls, “an action film about the love of 35mm.” With a description like that, it’s wholly unsurprising that Drafthouse Films will be releasing it. There’s no exact date yet, but they’re planning a theatrical run for some and VOD for all. Check out the teaser trailer here:

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The Green Inferno

Pleated skirts and revenge! Jungle protests and secret societies! Whatever Rigor Mortis is! These are some of the brutal delights that programmer Colin Geddes has set up for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness slate. The whole thing opens with Lucky McKee‘s (The Woman) latest film All Cheerleaders Die where he teams with writer/director Chris Sivertson to remake one of his early movies. This new version tells the supernatural story of a rebellious girl who joins the cheerleading squad in order to take down the captain of the football team. There’s also new Eli Roth, Sion Sono, Hitoshi Matsumoto…The hits keep coming, and I still can’t tell what’s going on in Rigor Mortis. Here’s the full lineup to drool over.

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Sion Sono‘s work is not for everyone, but it should be. The writer/director explores themes of family, modern social trends and violence better than almost anyone, and with films like Cold Fish, Suicide Club and Noriko’s Dinner Table under his belt, it’s shocking that each new work doesn’t automatically receive the Blu carpet treatment automatically. Sadly, that’s not the case, but happily, a grand injustice is being rectified. According to Twitch, Sono’s four-hour-long exploration of young love, cults, faith, family (of course), and upskirt photography is finally coming to Blu-ray in August. Love Exposure focuses on a young man whose father is a priest obsessed with getting his son to repent, but without any real sins, Yu begins sinning just to have something to report back. His main sin is flashing his camera under the skirts of girls in the city, and his misadventure leads to encounters with a young woman stalking him, a strange religion trying to recruit his family, and a girl he falls in love with while in drag (and naturally has to continue pretending to be a woman in order to date).

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Sion Sono is the genius who made two hours seem like weeks in Suicide Club but managed to make four hours fly by in Love Exposure. A couple of years ago, Noriko’s Dinner Table probably stood as his finest work, but Cold Fish far surpassed it with its testicular exploration of violence, family and loss of humanity. Plus, his latest work, Himizu – which focuses on two teenagers who take to fighting crime in a world post-tsunami – is getting high acclaim as well thanks to the Venice Film Festival. According to The Hollywood Reporter, his next move is to make a movie born out of the tragic Japanese earthquake of 2011 and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear fallout that came after, although the events will be fictionalized. Land of Hope will focus on a pregnant couple (Jun Murakami and Megumi Kagurazaka) who have to escape their farm because of an earthquake and nuclear plant accident. A few months after the earthquake in 2011, Japanese filmmaking icon Takashi Miike stated that, “I’m sure we will see, for example the kids that have grown up in this situation, the sort of wounds they have from the situation, we’ll definitely have to see it to some effect in our movies.” Sion Sono may not be a kid, but he’s a stellar force for telling this kind of story. In fact,there are few directors as tuned into stories that alter and challenge interpersonal relationships. Any news of a new film from him is celebratory […]

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Sion Sono’s films have never really been aimed at a wide audience, but few directors are as capable as he is of making the ugliest things beautiful. Case in point is his latest film, Guilty of Romance. Izumi is the docile wife of a successful romance novelist who saves all of his energy and emotion for his books and readers. Her entire life is in service to him as her daily duties include making sure his shoes are ready for him at the door and his meals are ready for him at dinnertime. She’s also expected to compliment his naked body even though he’s never interested in sharing it with her in any meaningful way. Seriously, the scene where he shows her his penis, fishing for reassuring words, and then tells her she can touch it if she wants is just awkward and painful to watch. But when she steps out of her normal life to get a job and find her own worth she discovers a deviance she never expected… both outside her home and inside herself. She meets Mitsuko, a professor by day who moonlights as a prostitute, and the two of them descend into a very dark hole together. And that’s not a euphemism. Okay, maybe it is.

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during Fantastic Fest 2010, but every word of it still applies today as Cold Fish sees a limited release this week. The key to making someone disappear is to cut up the body into tiny bite sized chunks and to separate the meat from the bone. From there, you can burn the bones in an industrial barrel and drop the diced human into the river to be eaten by the fish. It takes a time commitment, but it’s really a simple procedure. This is just one of the many lessons presented in the movie Cold Fish, the new work from Sion Sono that tells the story of Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), a timid tropical fish store owner who is bullied by his daughter and shut out from sexual intercourse by his wife. Murata (Denden), a fellow entrepreneur in the fish world, helps the family out by employing the rebellious daughter, leaving the household open for fornication to commence, and making Shamoto his latest business partner on a big score. Of course, all of this comes at a heavy cost, and Shamoto soon learns how to make someone disappear.

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ff-LoveExposure

Watching a 4-hour long movie may seem daunting, but it’s an incredible reward when the flick involves love, religion, cults, bloodbaths, lesbianism, perversion and, of course, upskirt pictures.

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