The Sun's Burial (Japan, 1960)

This garishly colored Nagisa Oshima drama of the damned souls wallowing in Japan’s lower depths is closer in tone to the nihilism of the cult-horror satire Street Trash than the superficially similar but more humanistic Akira Kurosawa homeless saga Dodes’kaden, of exactly ten years later. The sweltering setting is a slum-shantytown outside over-industrialized Osaka. A very loose plot (which feels longer than it has to be) concerns assorted individuals trying to get a leg up, in disloyal alliances and power struggles with the local yakuza gangs and a beautiful but cynical, self-actualizing prostitute whose specialty is collecting and selling black-market blood from desperate men. Co-writer and director Oshima’s real venom seems reserved for the character of a right-wing WWII vet, still ordering others around with his doomsday-weapon of a live hand-grenade and running his own identity-theft ring with a stated goal of arming the ghetto for impending battle against the U.S.S.R. For the iconoclastic filmmaker, he seems to represent the Imperial “Greatest Generation” who let Nippon degrade to this. Okay, okay, I’ll cancel my vacation trip there, happy now? Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:55 p.m. Sunday, April 5. HHH
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