ironically, two of Japan’s most adventurous directors—Sion Sono and Takeshi
Miike—are also the two most likely to get international distribution. While
Miike’s films come in a variety of speeds, including something approximating
accessibility, Sono’s films only vary in their degree of insanity. However, in
recognition of his prolific output and his compulsive urge to document and address
the Fukushima disaster, Sono finally finds himself embraced by the
establishment in 2015. However, Sono remained the same old jaundiced eccentric,
at least judging from Arata Oshima’s documentary profile, The Sion Sono (trailer here), which screens during this year’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film in New York.
is indeed the son of controversial auteur Nagisa Oshima, but he doesn’t exactly
give Sono the Sono treatment in The Sion
Sono. Instead, he mostly gives us straight-over-the-plate doc footage of
Sono puttering about his painting studio, chewing the fat with his colleagues,
or peering through the lens as he helms one of the five theatrical films he
released last year.
how different films like Whispering Star,
Tag, and Love & Peace are
from each other and how distinctive thy all are, it is certainly interesting to
watch Sono work his filmmaking magic—at least up to a point. However, when the
auteur is not defiling canvases, he is rather deceptively mild mannered. After
a while, watching him film leaky faucets starts to drag a little.
However, when Sono discusses Fukushima and its
relationship to his work, the film definitely starts to pick up. Aspiring
filmmakers should also glean a number of lessons from the chaotic career
anecdotes The Sion Sono shares with
Oshima. Nevertheless, there is no getting around the DVD-extra vibe of Oshima’s
documentary. It is nowhere near as entertaining as Mark Hartley’s docs or as
thoughtful as Yves Montmayeur’s filmmaker profiles. If you regularly cover
Japanese cinema, you will find some helpful insights within, but it is
certainly not mandatory viewing for general audiences. Probably best saved for
hardcore Sono diehards, The Sion Sono screens
this Saturday (7/16) at the Japan Society, as part of Japan Cuts 2016.
Labels: Documentary, Japan Cuts '16, Sion Sono