Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Red Post on Escher Street / エッシャー通りの赤いポスト - 2021 AAAFF Movie Review

The Movie: Red Post on Escher Street / エッシャー通りの赤いポスト

The Director: Sion Sono

The Cast: Mala Morgan, Taro Suwa, Tetsu Watanabe, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Tomoko Fujita, Jun Toba

The Story: It follows a filmmaker who holds auditions for his next project. Several of the actors who fail to win roles participate as extras.

The Review:
Director Sion Sono has had a prolific film career dating back to the mid 80's and oddly enough I have only ever watched one of his movies, Tag which came out in 2015, so I was excited to see his name attached to this movie. Sono wrote the story along with directing and there is a lot of commentary about working within the film industry as well as some overarching themes about not letting yourself get lost in the crowd. One thing I was not aware of until watching the movie is that it was never supposed to be something that would be released in theaters, it was a final project of a workshop the director had put on for aspiring actors as a sort of graduation project.

I have to say that I am glad that the movie has made it's way into film festivals and will hopefully have some sort of theatrical and home video release. There is a lot going on in the movie and the run time is a hefty two hours and 28 minutes but it is well worth the effort and the payoffs at the end are the high points of the entire production. Full disclosure, I was about halfway through the movie and actually considering whether I wanted to finish it. The story kept cycling through new characters and it was getting a bit redundant but then Sono started weaving all the different storylines together and brought it all home with some big emotional and inspirational punches right up to the very end.

A lot of the movie comes with a meta vibe kind of like One Cut of the Dead, one of my favorite movies of all time, and Sono takes a lot of jabs at the film industry, producers, and how making movies is often more about making money over art. The most inspiring stuff though comes from a few of the individual character arcs a lot of which deal with loss in some form or fashion. There's even a plot twist that had me floored and I'm not going to say anything else about that because it's too easy to give away what it is but you'll definitely know it when it's revealed.

The final scene of the movie, filmed at the famous Shibuya crossing intersection in Tokyo adds a great punctuation to a lot of the themes of the movie and is also a fitting sendoff for two of the primary characters. There really is a lot going on in this movie, almost too much, and as I mentioned it does drag on a bit, but really, if you really love movies, you will appreciate everything that went into getting the film made and the payoff is worth the effort. I would say there are a few of Sono's workshop attendees who have a chance at breaking out based on their performances in this movie.

The Verdict:
Red Post on Escher Street is a movie that is hard to slap a quick label or definition on. It is a comedy, a drama, a horror, an action movie, a satire, and a commentary on society, culture, and the film industry. At times the story feels really long and, around the halfway point, sits on the brink of falling apart but director Sion Sono weaves some magic with a third act that pulls everything together and delivers the goods in a very satisfying way.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at 2021 AAAFF.

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