A difficult experimental film from Nagisa Oshima. One needs some historical context, which is helpfully found in the one-page article in the Eclipse edition DVD. But even with that, it's one of those films that I found interesting, but ultimately a little difficult to think much of. It concerns four male college (high school?) students who, along with four female students, accompany their bawdy teacher to a bar, where they listen to him sing a dirty sex song (which sounds kind of tame translated into English). This makes the male students believe the teacher was encouraging them and the gals to screw around, and they begin to fantasize about raping and harming the women. I thought that perhaps this was a treatise on Japanese sexual oppression in the light of the sexual revolution that was occurring in America and elsewhere at the time (frequently characters are singing American folk songs, protesting the Vietnam War), but, according to the liner notes, Oshima was much more interested in the treatment of Koreans (at least three of the films in the Eclipse box set are), as the one girl in particular whom they fantasize about raping is half Korean or something. Just watching the movie, I would never have gotten that. I don't remember at all her race mentioned, but apparently that fact would not be lost on a Japanese audience. Or maybe it would. Who knows, it's not exactly like this film is considered a classic or anything. I'd say it's marginally worth watching for fans of Oshima or Japanese films in general.
Reviewed by Quinoa19848 / 10
Really strange and perverted movie, but I wouldn't expect much less from Nagisa Oshima
Sing a Song of Sex, or 'A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Songs' (frankly I can't really tell you which title is better) is done by a filmmaker who has a kind of poker face, and only reveals his hand just slightly half-way through, so that by the end you really feel the collective punch of his full show of cards. It's a story that has a melancholy air to it, but suffused with a captivating sense of irony and self-consciousness ultimately with itself. Its main characters really couldn't give a damn, except to get laid, and in a way it's like the twisted older cousin of an American Pie movie... only without the bawdy jokes and replaced with bawdy songs, I guess.
This film takes a look at aimless youths finishing high school and getting ready for college who after the sudden death of a teacher wander about singing the same song of sex (going through ten scenarios through the song), and imagining raping a girl in a classroom. There is also a girlfriend of sorts (or two) who follow with their pack, and at one point they come across a group singing protest songs in English. But mostly not a whole lot "happens" except that Oshima gets precisely and dangerously into the minds of his politically conscious - or un-conscious- minds. What do these four boys think about? What's their plan or play? What about the one student who may or may not (or not likely) have been able to save the teacher's life? The style starts out very realistically, which opens it up for how bizarre it gets later on since nothing seems too self-conscious, but everything has on another air of fantasy to it. The last ten minutes gets especially brutal, though all with a slow and uncomfortably surreal boil (by uncomfortable I mean as a compliment). It's a mature, super-black comic work by a director who knows how to put the camera in positions that make his characters more than just figures in a frame but figures set against the backdrops they're in (snow, city buildings, bridges, crowds, the empty school room).
Reviewed by crossbow01068 / 10
Youth Is Wasted On The Young
This movie is about four male high school students who took their university entrance exams and are just hanging around mostly. They have a connection with their teacher Mr. Otake and they go out drinking with him and 3 female classmates. Mr. Otake starts singing a bawdy Japanese folk song, a song sung throughout the film by the male characters. One night after heavy drinking, Otake pays for the girls and guys to stay at an inn since the trains have stopped running. Otake puts on the gas stove, falls drunkenly asleep and accidentally kills himself by poisoning. The girls are inconsolable, the guys nonchalant. The guys become obsessed with a fellow classmate, mostly known by her seat number 469. The film goes from there, with meeting her, meeting Otake's mistress and singing the song. This take on disenfranchised youth in Tokyo is very effective. Director Oshima Nagisa is well known for pushing the envelope (he directed the notorious "In The Realm Of The Senses")and this character study is interesting, with good young actors in the pivotal roles. The movie title notwithstanding, this is not a pornographic film, it has very little nudity and very little violence. Its just a story of attitude, indifference and, if not fear, wariness of what lies ahead. I liked the pacing in this film and generally feel you'll like it if you like Japanese drama. Not perfect, but an interesting film from a maverick director who has no problem making you think.