More than thirty years into his career, ceremony remains on-going for acclaimed director Sion Sono’s eclectic approach to cinema. That no less includes the praise and approval among fans witnessing one of his latest film-within-a-film (within-a-film) effort, The Red Post On Escher St., a “graduation project” of sorts comprised of students from his acting workshop, and shot in a way that lends an extra layer of perceptive depth to the overall environment and setting.
Dozens of women make way in The Red Post On Escher St. as aspiring screen hopefuls vying for a chance to star in the next big movie directed by Tadashi Kobayashi. Out of fifty audionees, there are about fifteen or more who become become central to the narrative, including – not limited to – a wanton theater actress in a secret affair with one of her troupe member’s exes, a Kobayashi-obssessed fan club with a member who can see ghosts, a young widow who pursues acting to honor her late husband’s death, a background extra desperate for people to hear her song, a disturbed woman who may or may not have murdered her father prior to the audition, and a woman who only recently lost her mother.
With all the goings-on among the auditionees, the drama extends even further to the crew during post-production, with Kobayashi propositioned to make a “light-and-frothy” movie on a small budget. Despite his efforts to improve on the script and take initiative on other matters, the biggest conflict of interest here stems from the producers’ backroom dealings to strategically weave A-listers into the casting call despite Kobayashi’s push to cast amateurs. His only reprieve is the reappearance of a longtime friend whose mysterious connection to the director becomes clearer as the story unfolds.
The Red Post On Escher St. puts its aesthetic focus on just about every ingredient placed on screen that’s required for a movie scene to work – tangential to the film’s larger messaging as the plot thickens and tensions boil over among characters in the events leading to the climactic day of filming Kobayashi’s big movie. Actresses fall out on the film’s bustling set, production assistants are tested when confronted with camera-hungry bit players, one actor gets the shit kicked out of him, and eventually even Kobayashi starts to lose his shit in what looks to be perhaps his biggest, moment of clarity amid the chaos and anarchy. Eventually after all is said and done, all eyes are on the real stars of his movie.
This is only the fourth film I’ve been able to see by Sono in the past sixteen years or so since I started deep-diving into Asian movies of the early 2000s – the first step to my journey of Sono’s repetoire some years back was the 2014 U.S. release of Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, which I fell in love with immediately, and will always be my root reference when thinking of his work. His signature energy is all over The Red Post On Escher St., littered with characters each faced with their own proclivities, trauma and issues that all unravel by the final act, all culminating the film’s greater essence. It’s a story of liberation by facing who we are in a sea of millions as we move forward in life, and it’s one told in a way that only fans of Sion Sono can really appreciate.
The Red Post On Escher St. is screening for the North Bend Film Festival through July 18.
CAST: Sen Fujimaru, Riku Kurokochi, Mala Morgan, Tatsuhiro Yamaoka, Yuma Ueji, Canon Nawata, Fumina Suzuki, Tomoko Fujita, Kazumasa Taguchi, Taro Suwa, Tetsu Watanabe, Mitsuru Fukikoshi.
DIRECTOR/WRITER/EDITOR: Sion Sono