The Big Screen: Nagisa Oshima retrospective

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Nagisa Oshima packs a visceral wallop with his titles alone: Cruel Story of Youth; Violence at Noon; Empire of Passion; Death by Hanging. For years, titles have been all Americans have had to go on, as most of the Japanese master's films are unavailable on video in the U.S. and rarely seen in theaters. This weekend, the Wexner Center welcomes the first major retrospective of Oshima's work in over 20 years, as well as organizer James Quandt of Cinematheque Ontario.

Quandt sets up the month-long series Friday afternoon with a lecture providing an overview of the filmmaker and the themes - sex, crime, social unrest and outsider status - that prevailed as he took on a variety of genres. He went viciously political for his debut, the leftist wedding psychodrama Night and Fog in Japan, then fixed on teenage nihilism for Cruel Story of Youth. Both films screen Friday evening.

Saturday brings 1976's internationally notorious In the Realm of the Senses, a hardcore erotic drama based on a true story that caused riots at the Cannes Film Fest and still has the power to shock today. With the central couple's singular focus on the extremities of sensation, Oshima memorably highlights the divide between experiencing and watching. It screens with the satire Pleasures of the Flesh.

The David Bowie-starring WWII drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is also among the Oshima films screening in May. A complete schedule is available on the Wex's website.

Retrospective: Nagisa Oshima

When: May 1-28

Where: Wexner Center, Campus