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Red Post on Escher Street - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Escher dori no akai posuto

Japan 2019

Drama, Comedy

Sion Sono

Tatsuhiro Yamaoka
Riku Kurokouchi
Sen Fujimaru
Mala Morgan
Taro Suwa
Tetsu Watanabe
Mitsuru Fukikoshi
Tomoko Fujita
Marina Kozawa
Jun Toba
Riku Nakamura
Chihiro Nagai

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Red Post on Escher Street

Red Post on Escher Street - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Tadashi Kobayashi (Tatsuhiro Yamaoka) is a well-known director who doesn't rely on mainstream productions and is mainly represented at film festivals while being praised by critics. He is currently looking for a cast for his latest work and is having an audition. But in truth, he still has problems with his script, so that a friend, Katako (Mala Morgan), comes to his aid. In addition, it is not easy for him to find his ideal cast, also because the producers stand in his way and have their own ideas. And this even though Kobayashi, after quite some years, finally wanted to make a movie again that was genuinely his own. The audition also goes anything but smooth. A group of amateur actresses tries to gain a foothold in the movie industry through Kobayashi's work and a fan club of the director wants to be as close as possible to his idol by being part of his picture. The most promising candidate is Kiriko (Riku Kurokouchi), who lost her husband a year ago and wants to continue his dream of becoming an actor. There is also Yasuko (Sen Fujimaru), who has just come from her father, who she says has stabbed himself. She is mentally unstable, but brings a completely new energy to the audition. Kobayashi soon has to make a decision, but it is becoming more and more evident that the production is ill-fated.

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Review: Sion Sono's movies often come out of nowhere, but when they suddenly appear, I almost always drop everything and watch his newest work. The reason is quite simply that a masterpiece like "Love Exposure" could possibly be among his newest pieces of art again. Of course, the director likes to go in a slightly different direction from time to time and this can sometimes become quite bloody, as in his last picture "The Forest of Love", but what is fascinating about his films is the controlled chaos and the mixture of art house and entertainment. It seems as if the director wants to remain a rebel forever, no matter which direction he has to go for that. The fact that his films are increasingly working at a meta level should therefore not surprise anyone. With his latest two and a half hour film about filmmaking and casting, however, he hits the mark just as often as he misses it.

Red Post on Escher Street - Film Screenshot 5

First of all, some praise is in order, because "Red Post on Escher Street" is packed with individuals who come into focus one after another. There are so many of them that most of them are ticked off in groups. And yet they have something three-dimensional and natural about them. Even the smaller roles can be distinguished easily. And even though the focus could have been lost with the large number of people involved - and it actually does every now and then - it's amazing that the film can always feel as a whole. Sion Sono simply knows how to create the right rhythm. As a viewer we are still a bit restless because we don't know who to pay attention to, though. Who deserves our sympathies here? But at some point it should also become clear to those who have not yet had much contact with the director's works that Sion Sono does not knit his films according to traditional patterns. He's always good for a surprise.

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At first everything is a bit overwhelming when we are introduced to the theater group and shortly afterwards to a whole bunch of other people. We still have Kobayashi as an anchor, who of course also includes a good portion of Sion Sono himself. Above all, his longing to be allowed to make a film like during his amateur days shows clear parallels. As does his tendency to fill leading roles with amateur actresses. He also casts amateurs this time which gives the film something authentic. Although it's not always that way ... Sometimes, Sion Sono's intention of bringing a certain dynamic of reality onto the screen makes the actors appear a bit too theatrical. Sen Fujimaru as Yasuko and Riku Kurokouchi as Kiriko manage to impress, however, and become the film's secret leading actresses. A great achievement by Sion Sono, too, because that was exactly what he intended. This comedy drama is after all also about the importance of a good cast.

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However, not only the leads are extremely important, but also the extras who work in the background. The entire film is actually a declaration of love to them, as the first scene is proof of, in which dozens of different people very naturally walk through the camera frame after we hear an "action". A scene that also acts as an outlook of what's to come. In addition to looking at this aspect of the film industry, the director shows us that the extras also have to be seen as the individuals who keep our society going. An allegory that wants to make us realize that the machinery cannot run even without the smallest extra and that you can and should break out of this small framework if you want to be the lead actor. You are the lead actor in your own life anyway. And it certainly doesn't matter if you're a little "broken".

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There are a few messages conveyed, and not only towards the end, when there is a very long continuous shot and everything seems a bit (intentionally) hectic and chaotic. Messages are hidden everywhere. Making one's voice heard when freedom is excessively restricted can be understood both as a criticism of the Corona measures in many countries, as well as an appeal to Hong Kong not to allow itself to be disencouraged by all the crackdowns of demonstrations - after all, there is also talk about the political situation in Hong Kong on the radio. Basically, Sion Sono is just himself again. Humor and drama go hand in hand, the running time is a bit too long this time, a little more focus would have been nice and the movie couldn't click with me completely because there may be too many personal aspects from the director put into this film. But it is still the kind of work we would have hoped to get from the director. Even though there is a lack of highlights.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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