The latest feature from Japanese provocateur Sion Sono would seem like your standard meta-film drama in any other hands. But with Sono, anything goes. The wild rambunctious stylings of the acclaimed director has captured the hearts and minds of cult-film fanatics from around the globe. With Red Post on Escher Street, Sono proves once again that he is not just some pretentious douche, but rather a contemplative conductor of chaos. The film radiates pure chaotic evil energy throughout its lengthy 148-minute runtime, where the relentless pursuit of stardom from its cast of crazed characters results in invigorating social commentary.
A droll dramedy and love letter to the casting process, Red Post on Escher Street is in essence a whirlpool of creative frustration. In an industry of bickering producers and outrageous demands, it makes perfect sense why Sono would tackle a subject like this before his major English-language debut with Nicholas Cage. In some ways a feature-length rant on the scattershot and oppressive state of the auditioning process, Sono makes sure that each of the rejected fictional actors in the film have some sort of background. Actors and extras are human after all, and as much as we tend to forget about them from a distance of glitz and glamour, it’s important to acknowledge their emotional desires.
Show biz is cruel. Sono knows it’s cruel. Using the most out of his trademark unhinged performance direction, Red Post on Escher Street is largely self-contained with a cacophony of screams, squeals, and cartoonish violence. But all the madness comes with a resounding purpose. The film is ultimately an introspective look at Japanese society as a whole, and how all the characters that are part of the audition process are interconnected through trauma, fate, and creative control. An orchestration of concise chaos, the scattershot and restless nature of the film always serves some sort of role, when nearing the tumultuous finale.
Red Post on Escher Street Is an outrageous dark comedy with a soft satirical edge. Far from a supposed “return to form” for Sono — since that would imply some sort of failure in the director’s work, wherein actuality he rarely misses time and time again — his latest endeavour into the behind the scenes of the film industry is a righteous accomplishment. A show-business epic of great magnitude and stature, Red Post on Escher Street may just be a future underdog favourite for fans of films about the filmmaking process. To simply put it, nobody does it like Sono, in an industry saturated with stale concepts and dry artistic voices.
Dir: Sion Sono
Scr: Sion Sono
Cast: Sen Fujimaru, Riku Kurokouchi, Mala Morgan
DOP: Masaya Suzuki
Run time: 148 minutes
Red Post on Escher Street screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema as part of the TEMPS Ø program.