MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR LAWRENCE
1983, Janus Film, 123 min, UK/New Zealand/Japan, Dir: Nagisa Oshima

In this captivating, skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies Celliers, a British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Rock star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is the British lieutenant colonel Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between captor and prisoner. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash, and one of Oshima’s greatest successes.


SAMURAI MARATHON 1855
2019, 103 min, Dir: Bernard Rose

Bernard Rose’s astounding take on Japanese jidaigeki, or “period drama,” is set in the year 1855. After decades of isolation, Japan has started receiving trade ships from the rest of the world; amidst the new arrivals is an American merchant captain who brings with him whiskey, photography and, most important, pistols. These weapons are seen as a threat to the ancient Samurai and their code of honor, so the Annaka clan devise a test to determine if their men are ready should battle be necessary: a marathon in which the winner may ask of the master anything he may desire. But the Shogunate is fearful of the Annaka daimyo (feudal lord) and awaits word from their spy to see if they need to deploy their full might to crush the clan to smithereens. The stage is set for one spellbinding confrontation and an awe-inspiring marathon race against time. With a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass.


INSIGNIFICANCE
1985, Hanway Films, 109 min, UK, Dir: Nicolas Roeg

This adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play brings together four of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century in a thought-provoking meditation on fame, power and the unknowability of the human soul. As she is filming a movie in New York City, Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell) visits Albert Einstein (Michael Emil) as Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey) and Senator Joe McCarthy (Tony Curtis) circle around them. Roeg’s non-linear approach to the story opens fascinating windows into the characters of the actress, the professor, the ballplayer and the senator, and this speculative drama earned the Technical Grand Prize at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.


Syndicate content