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Province of the Wretched, Part II: Shuttered

Linked by their concerns with sexuality (or, more directly, perversion), if not by the near simultaneous release of several of their films on DVD in the US, Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura belong to that needling New Wave that began slightly after the more famous French version. At the end of April, Criterion released a pair of Oshima films and, in the middle of May, a trio of Imamuras followed. I looked at In the Realm of the Senses from Oshima and Intentions of Murder from Imamura: both films portrait an abject sexuality based primarily in violence and crudity—lust is battery here. However, both films are rather handsome productions, all sheen, or at least pointed (though Oshima is flat where Imamura angles) and professional.

To my surprise, given the reputations of these artists, I found both impossible; both projects made me churn; and due to their strength, no matter my impulse to generosity, I could not (cannot) surmount my base reaction. So I decided the best option was to do unto the films as they did unto me and rend them a bit—to push back at the image and keep the argument there, not in here (in me). These screens of sex register abjection, and my images below, if I'm lucky, may suggest how this non-erotic aim of the pair feels like it belongs beyond masochism in the province of the wretched.

These stills closely resemble poses reflected in tiny ivory figurines sold in Japanese souvenir shops. Perhaps the characters are playing the imaginary lives the statues would live if they could….

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