Thoughts on Taboo

Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:44 PM By Simon

-At the start of the movie, the young and handsome Kanō Sōzaburō is admitted to the Shinsengumi (新撰組), an elite samurai police group led by Kondō Isami that seeks to defend the shogunate against reformist forces. He is a very skilled swordsman, but it is his appearance that makes many of the others in the (strictly male) group, both students and superiors, attracted to him, creating tension within the group of people vying for Kanō's affections.

-I'd say I hated this movie, but y'know, such a strong word. So I'm going to go with disliked very strongly.

-The performances are fine, guys. Ryuhei Matsuda, who plays Kano, is called androgynous even though he looks more girl than boy (if he cut his damn hair, on the other hand, but I suppose that is the point of his rather nefarious, though implied, intentions revealed later on), is good, especially since this is his first movie and he was, y'know, fifteen.

-How do teenage boys take roles like this? Do they get teased at school? At my school they'd probably get a load of shit.

-Beat Takeshi (acting name, guys, he doesn't direct) is fine, but I found his character annoying. The great majority of his dialogue and occasional narration (speaking of which, this voiceover thing was dropped in every once in awhile, and unnecessary) is him insisting that Kano and Tashiro (the other student brought into the dojo with Kano, and who kind of ambushes him in his sleep after, like, a month in, played by Tadanobu Asano) are 'lovers'. He says it so many times, and they so blatantly aren't (in the aforementioned ambushing, Kano threatens Tashiro with a dagger), it's just so silly.

-Has anyone else noticed that Kitano has a facial tick or something? Like, he's grimacing or winking or something, in everything he does, and I'm pretty sure it's involuntary, but, what's going on there?

-None of the other actors were very notable, to be honest.

-So, there was a much-ballyhooed (that's a word now. Deal with it) sodomy scene in this, and when I got to it, what's the big deal? Some thrusting under some covers, what the fuck ever.

-Anyway, why I didn't like the movie overall. The story was interesting, but poorly executed, and it took it's sweet time getting to the point. Director Nagisa Oshima slowly brings the movie from realistic to a fantasy-like enviroment, which is cool, but still. Boring and pointless and made for the sake of putting addressing the aspect of homosexuality among samurai, long ignored.

-Why is everyone saying that this was all homosexual 'subtext'? It's all they ever talked about, who Kano was doing (in fact, he was only doing one guy, and I'm pretty sure it was either rape or some kind of calculated maneuver on Kano's part) or how pretty he was or if so-and-so-or-I 'lean that way'. Some characters thrown in in the beginning, disappearing for half the movie, then showing up again and everyone acts like they've been really important to the story.

-It's just a mess. Could've been better, wasn't. Maybe I'm watching it wrong, but you know what? I don't wanna watch it again, so I guess we'll never know.


Marc Edward Heuck said...

Takeshi Kitano had a car accident that caused all the unusual behaviors of his face.

FWIW, this film was a long-awaited return for director Nagisa Oshima, who had directed two extremely controversial sex dramas in the '70's (IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, EMPIRE OF PASSION). His best-known film in America is probably MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE with David Bowie.

August 26, 2010 at 10:33 PM
Simon said...

Now I feel bad.

I heard of that movie. Netflix has the damn thing on Save, though.

August 27, 2010 at 3:28 PM