Funeral Parade of Roses. 17 May 2014. 2:30 pm

(Bara no Sōretsu
Dir. Toshio Matsumoto, 1969
Starring: Pîtâ, Osamu Ogasawara
Japanese (with English subtitles)

A transexual version of the classic Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, set in the queer underground community in Tokyo? Sure, why not? Society’s rejects are the heroes and heroines here, and their lives have an operatic quality. This is a tale on the inevitability of ending up becoming the person inside you, but you wont get a nicely packaged uplifting message --- the tragedy strikes the film like lightning, and burns it to cinders in the inevitable conclusion. And yet, most of the film is about the everyday. This story about ordinary people living extraordinary lives is told with complete confidence, in a perfectly assembled but shockingly fluid free style. The mixture of documentary and fiction feels as daring now as it must have been then. And the actors! Those non-professional actors! The only explanation for their superb work is that they know, better than most, that gender and sexuality are, for each and every one of us, a daily, elaborate, well-rehearsed, audience-validated, and carefully scripted performance. Would there have been a David Lynch, a Sally Potter, a Stanley Kubrick, or a Pedro Almodovar without this film, we wonder? And have those four produced anything to match this bold genius?

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