Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Screen capture from Criterion DVD
WHO: Nagisa Oshima wrote and directed this.

WHAT: In the Realm of the Senses is almost certainly the most-viewed Oshima film internationally, which I feel can be attributed equally to two factors: its high quality (I'd call it one of the two or three best of the dozen or so Oshima films I've managed to view, and I don't get the sense I'm alone in appreciating it narratively and formally) and its notorious reputation. The latter stems, of course, from, attacks on the film by censors over the years; it been banned from screening under obscenity laws around the world, including in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

In Japan, where it was filmed, it to this day remains censored (though not banned, certain images including public hair remain obscured from all sanctioned home video and theatrical releases there). Oshima knew his film would be so treated in his country when he made it forty years ago, and correspondingly sent his film to be developed in labs in France to avoid "making his pure film dirty", as he would later decry the blurring and blacking out techniques that treat his film like it's porn. When my friend Adam Hartzell wrote about Oshima and In the Realm of the Senses on this blog on the occasion of an Oshima retrospective seven years ago, he noted that an uncut version of the film finally screened in Japan in 2000, but I've since learned that even that supposedly "uncut" print, while uncensoring female genitalia, still kept male genitalia obscured.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens 7PM tonight only at the Roxie.

WHY: Today is the final day of the Roxie's Banned Movie Week, a brilliant idea for a series (that I hope becomes annual) inspired by Banned Books Week, which has been celebrated in libraries and schools during the final week in September since 1982. I highlight this screening on my blog today not only because In the Realm of the Senses is a terrific movie deserving of attention, but because it gives me an excuse to mention that after over ten years working for the San Francisco Public Library in various capacities, I've left that position and am now working for another local library system. My hours and responsibilities have increased somewhat, so I'm not certain I'll be able to keep up the rate of posting on this blog that I've been used to maintaining over the years (sometimes it's been a post per day or more, though there have been frequent periods where'd I'd post no more than once in a month; so far I've never gotten less frequent than that, but I can't guarantee that'll remain true). I still plan to be involved, on a strictly volunteer basis, in the ATA@SFPL group which, for over a year and a half now, has been organizing and hosting screenings of film prints from the SFPL 16mm collection. I wrote a bit about this group on this blog last year, and though I'm not certain what we'll be showing at our next expected screening in December, I'm sure we'll know pretty soon; our group's next event won't actually involve SFPL prints at all, but will be a short presentation at Other Cinema on Saturday November 19, in which we'll discuss the project and show a couple prints owned by local filmmakers whose work we became aware of during our archival explorations: Rick Goldsmith's Anatomy of a Mural and Christian Schiess's Luminauts.

In addition to Banned Movie Week, the Roxie is currently hosting the final few days of the SF Latino Film Festival, a couple digital screenings of anime classics, and the opening week-long runs of new releases like Danny Says and Spa Night to close out September. Highlights of October include a 35mm showing of Point Blank, two MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS showings including a new DCP of Stand By Me paired with a 35mm print of Creepshow and a double-bill of truly neglected sequels, the Walter Murch-directed Return To Oz and my favorite George Miller film Babe: Pig in the City. Both of those are also 35mm, as is the same day's locally-made indie Treasure Island. It's not yet determined whether Takashi Miike's (arguably) sickest film Ichi The Killer will screen as DCP or 35mm print on October 27th, the formats for what may be the month's most exciting series, a horror showcase featuring only films directed by women, have been announced. Expect 35mm prints of Katheryn Bigelow's vampire classic Near Dark and the late Antonia Bird's unbelievable Ravenous, and DCP showings of (I believe) natively-digital features The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, The Babadook, and Lyle. Only Gloria Katz's Messiah of Evil and Karyn Kusama's Jennifer's Body will be shown on a format other than how they were filmed, and even the latter was, I understand, a hybrid 35mm & digital production.

HOW: In the Realm of the Senses screens as a 35mm print.