With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ACF 1163: "Sion Sono: The New Poet" at the Museum of Arts and Design

Exte: Hair Extensions / Ekusute
 Sion Sono: The New Poet
When: October 7th - November 11th, 2011
Where: Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

New York's Museum of Arts and Design will be presenting an exciting eight film retrospective of the works of master of the macabre filmmaker Sion (a.k.a. Shion) Sono. (Access MAD's Sono webpage by clicking here.)

I reviewed his terrific "hair-raising" thriller Exte: Hair Extensions (2007) a few years ago in Asian Cult Cinema magazine (issue number 56) and listed it as one of my five "Most Extreme, Most Outrageous Asian Films of All Time" (issue number 57). Recently I participated in a discussion of it for the VCinema Podcast, which should be airing soon.

I also recently watched a screener of Cold Fish (2010), which is loosely base on an actual Japanese husband & wife serial killer duo. It's another fine film that, like Exte, I'll be posting a review of here in the near future. (Cold Fish is also being screened at the Velvet Bullets and Steel Kisses retrospective of Nikkatsu films, a Masterworks sidebar to the NY Film Festival at Lincoln Center. For info about that screening, click here.)

I'm very much looking forward to going to the MAD series and fleshing out my exposure to some of Sion's other films, particularly Suicide Club, Noriko's Dinner Table, and Love Exposure. Actually, I've seen about 98% of Love Exposure, but the 2 disc DVD screener I got from a different film series several years ago didn't include the last few minutes! Gotta find out what happened!

In the meanwhile, here's MAD's description of their Sono program:

Chainsaws, serial killers, and mutant hair extensions merge harmoniously with true love, coming of age, and the delicate family dynamics in the bracingly original cinema of Sion Sono.

Sono began his artistic career as a poet at the age of 17. Not long after, the Japanese artist expanded into cinema.  After winning the Grand Prize at Tokyo’s PIA Film Festival for his short “A Man's Hanamichi,” Sono received a fellowship from the festival for his 16mm feature debut. “Bicycle Sighs,” a coming-of-age film about two underachievers in the perfectionist Japanese society, became an unexpected hit in Japan.  Since then, Sono has garnered acclaim and awards from both prominent international film festivals, including the Berlin Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and Sundance; he also gained a rabid cult following for films like “Suicide Club,” “Strange Circus,” “Norioko’s Dinner Table,” and “Love Exposure.”

Known for his fiercely independent roots (often writing, producing, and scoring his own films) Sono has followed in the footsteps of poets before him by mining the overlooked cultural artifacts of his time. Exploring the human condition found in these underground places, Sono elegantly crafts together stories of cults, horror, and violence with themes like individual alienation, the desperate desire for love, and the often-brutal reality of life in contemporary society. In his work, Sono continues to break down the marginalization of genre films by poetically revealing the human heart that beats underneath.

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