(3 out of 5 stars)
"An interesting film that I don't believe was entirely successful. The premise, a revolutionary group recognized by rank and function by the names of days, months and seasons that falls apart and betrays itself, is a clever one, but the dialogue is often too repetitive and cryptic to draw you in further. I'd like to see more from this director, but I think this film fell short its mission. I saw the VHS version so I can't comment on the DVD extras, if there are any or not."
Wakamatsu: A Whole New Dessert
Eileen Corder | West Coast | 03/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a rare and most informing interview included on this DVD (for which I give five stars) director Wakamatsu Koji says plainly and with conviction that his movies rewrite film grammar. Soft-spoken with an impish grin, his manner reveals a moxy, an intelligence, an innovator who was drawn to filmmaking in such an unlikely manner that his low-budget and stylish films are to studio pictures like an Outsider painting is to Western Art. There is a profusion of sex and violence, but in the end, they seem more like a rite of passage, a breaking down of barriers, an initiation into his perspective on the world. Ecstasy of the Angels continually surprised me with satire, humor, and a strong, yet understated pathos. And, cinematically, the fistful of unexpected explosions of color, jabbed like punctuation marks into an otherwise black & white film, hooked me good.
Although Wakamatsu has made over 100 films in the last 45 years, several of which he talks about in this DVD interview, they are rarely screened in the U.S. outside film festivals. Working as a construction worker before he began his film career in 1963, he nonetheless made a stir at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival with his Secrets Behind the Wall, which competed for the Golden Bear, no less. A major influence in Japan's pink (soft porn) film movement, his subjects often revolve around politics, murder and sex. In the West he is potentially best known for his role in producing In the Realm of the Senses.
His new film, United Red Army, recently won two prizes at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival, the C.I.C.A.E./Arte Award and the Netpac (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award. At present there are less than a handful of his films available, but with these new accolades, perhaps more of Wakamatsu's art will make its way to us. I hope so because discovering the art of Wakamatsu Koji isn't like finding a new flavor of ice cream, it's like stumbling upon a whole new dessert."