EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SADA (director: Nobuhiko Obayashi; screenwriter: Yuko Nishizawa; cinematographer: Noritaka Sakamoto; editor: Nobuhiko Obayashi; music: Sotaro Manabu ; cast: Hitomi Kuroki (Sada Abe), Tsurutaro Kataoka (Tatsuzo Kikumoto), Norihei Miki (Takuzo Abe), Kippei Shiina (Masaru Okada), Bengaru (Tachibana), Masaku Ikeuchi (College student rapist); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hisao Nabeshima/Kyoko Obayashi; Home Vision Entertainment; 1998-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi ("Song of
Last Snow") visits the Sada Abe (Hitomi
Japanese TV star) scandal of 1936, the often filmed tale about the infamous
Japanese geisha who strangled and castrated her lover for
reasons that have puzzled the Japanese people ever since. Sada was found three days later wandering the
streets, carrying his severed penis. It's inspired by Nagis Oshima's
controversial arthouse masterpiece "In The Realm of the Senses (1976)."
The erotic thriller is penned by Yuko
Nishizawa and is beautifully photographed in both
b/w and Technicolor, and features hyper-stylized sets,
silent-movie accelerated motion (with Keystone Kop street chases) and
pixellation (giving it a cartoonish look).
traces Sada's unfortunate life in a search for answers to her odd
behavior, and starts when the merchant's lower-middle-class virgin
daughter was raped at 14 by a
rich, cruel and arrogant college student (Masaku Ikeuchi)) and subsequently treated gently by a
sunglass wearing medical student,
Shiina). She becomes smitten with him, but he is never seen again by
her as he abruptly leaves for an isolated island because he has
Hansen's disease (leprosy)--something he doesn't tell her. After running around with a gang of teen
street thieves, Sada becomes a geisha and then a successful prostitute.
She becomes the kept woman of a wealthy politician (Bengaru), who
arranges for her to get into the restaurant business. But Sada is
smitten by the restaurant owner's
husband Tatsuzo (Tsurutaro Kataoka) and begins a destructive steamy
affair with him that ends in a kinky sexual tryst going overboard.
The film takes this tragic
subject matter and makes it feel artificially lighthearted, as if it
were a slapstick comedy. Though pretty to look at and titillatingly
bizarre, I found it gross considering the tragic real story and felt it
hardly did justice in telling Sada's story. It only adds to her
mystery, because in the end we still know little of Sada's mind-set and
pleasing but ultimately vulgar exploitation film, won the International
Critics Prize at the 1998 Berlin film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 4/10/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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