Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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Ongaku also known as The Music in English is directed by legendary director, Yasuzo Masumura (Moju, Hanzo, Red Angel). It was written by world famous writer, Yukio Mishima; noted for his sexual and psychological themes. In a nut shell: what we have is a pairing of director and writer who are at home with the material on offer.
The film is simply about a sexually repressed, frigid, middle-aged (?) woman who has a loveless marriage. She can no longer hear music as a result of her condition. She forms a sexual relationship with her brother hoping to quench her desires. She enlists the help of a psychiatrist to cure her frigidity and get to the root cause of her symptoms.
With the film being penned by Mishima, it's no surprise that the film is very analytical and psychological. The film is more of a psychological thriller than a horror or exploitation movie, which it sometimes gets branded as. It is similar to Moju in some ways.
With Masumura expect some dark, albeit excellently photographed visuals, mainly involving scissors. The film also contains a theme of incest and sexual repression. The film is probably only of interest to fans of Mishima, Masumura or fans of dark Japanese drama/thrillers. The other unfortunate factor is it is very difficult to get hold of - only ever released on VHS to date and is unsubtitled; a DVD release is long overdue.
The film is very good. Perfectively made in terms of visuals, even if a lot of the shots consist of black backdrops or spartan set design - it works. The plot moves at a reasonable pace and keeps the viewer guessing. For fans of either director, Masumura or writer, Mishima the film will be more of the same but, you won't be disappointed by the twistingly, twisted visuals and storytelling.
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