a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Oshika-mura Sodoki / 大鹿村騒動記

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Building a fiction around the real biannual community kabuki festival in the little town of Oshiki, director Junji Sakamoto has crafted a delightful “let’s-put-on-show” tale while exploring the dynamics of community. It helps that Sakamoto has gotten together a magnificent set of character actors – Yoshio Harada (Zigeunerweisen), Michiyo Okusu (Zatoichi), Ittoku Kishibe (13 Assassins) and Denden (Cold Fish) are just the tip of the iceberg. Oshika-mura Sodoki is on some levels a bit of rote situation comedy  – with a few tragic asides. But Sakamoto’s sure handed direction, visually and emotionally, with the help of journeymen and women actors who slip into their roles naturally and easily, Oshika-mura Sodoki flies much higher than your usual backwater slice-of-life. The kabuki play-within-the-movie is lovingly rendered, highlighting the simple transformational magic of theatre. Again, the trope of contrasting the artifice of the play while the performers live out their lives and address their issues in the wings can be bit long in the tooth, but Sakamoto and company make their struggles, travails and joys believable.

Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2011.

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

July 2, 2011 at 1:12 am

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