Homoerotic Gohatto for Mr. Roboto

31 Jul 2013: Taboo (DVD, 1999, Nagisa Oshima)

Memory of In the Realm of the Senses is hazier, but with The Ceremony and this one is identified Oshima’s unique and unsettling ability to both seriously inhabit codes of propriety and parody them simultaneously, as a superb deadpan comedian who refuses to fish for or even locate laughter. Ryuichi Sakamoto augments the bizarre tone with a very effective score of electronic textures that seldom attach themselves to emotional labels. The familiar and often one-dimensional view of samurai warrior as rigidly comported and dutiful and honorable or even antic and wacky (as in the Westerns which influenced Kurosawa and others) receives a refreshing reconsideration as a vaunted class in society as petty and rumor-mongering and sexually insecure as everyone else. Great use of dolly shots (as in The Ceremony, though they are generally of lesser distance here) and expressionistic sequences, especially toward the end, and dramatic use of brief (sometimes too brief somehow for subtitles to appear) intertitle quotations from the text on which the film is based.

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