Updated RankingsNaked Youth
aka. Cruel Story of Youth★ ★ ★ - Okay
Turning the Rebel Without a Cause on its head, Ōshima taps into something dark and primal. Bonnie and Clyde as a cautionary tale, where our young couple’s aching vulnerability is scabbed over by their cruelty towards others and themselves. One of those films like Goodfellas where the characters are fascinating, but never sympathetic. A product of their culture. Typical of the director, some scenes left me puzzled about what was intended, but there are a half-dozen ideas I’ve never seen another director do with the staging of a scene. I also see influence on Romeo + Juliet and the pie scene in A Ghost Story, here involving an apple.Sing a Song of Sex
The experimental touches here more in line with Godard, throwing in things just to break up the narrative and be confrontational. I feel like Ōshima is being extra shallow to see if I’ll still look at the material as deep. Also, his obsession with sex and transgression is so effective in the good films it becomes its own defense against calling the filmmaker sexist. However, when combined with lesser films, which also focus heavily on sexist characters, the line between presenting the material and believing it is harder to see. Boy
(1969)★ ★ ½
This seemed like a radical departure for Ōshima, but on reflection perhaps only the perspective has been changed. The adult couple is still destructively dysfunctional, but it’s told from the perspective of the oldest son, so the sexuality is removed. Youth brings optimism and hope, but the boy takes on the couple’s emotional and psychological abuse, so Ōshima as usual. The Man Who Put His Will on Film
(1970)★ ★ ½
I should've guessed Ōshima would have a puzzle box film in his catalogue. A meta-cinema puzzle with a narrative that continually twists inward on itself like Last Year at Marienbad, a deconstruction into the very meaning of cinema like 8 1/2 and pop culture and political commentary that's as shallow as it is used for depth, like Godard. There are a few moments that remind me of Ōshima's abilities, but I wish he had attempted this a decade earlier when he was making bold choices more frequently.