The Metaphysical Mysteries of Sogo Ishii

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"Known to many as the godfather of Japanese cyberpunk cinema for his rock-heavy, high-octane, biker films Burst City and Crazy Thunder Road, Sogo (now known as Gakuryu) Ishii is an important precursor to many of the cult icons that dominate Japanese cinemas reputation such as Takashi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto. Yet much more protean than much of his modest reputation admits, by the time the 90s came around, Ishii all but abandoned the leather stuffed aesthetic of his early films in favor of a slower, dream-like style concerned with metaphysical questions of identity and romantic desire. Suffuse with unsolvable mysteries that spiral endlessly out of control; a hypnotic editing style that relies on lethargic tracking shots and a sublime sense of empty architectural spaces mixed with rapid impressionistic montages and jarring auditory shifts; and a quietly transgressive gender subtext that echoes his earlier punk ambitions – ANGEL DUST, AUGUST IN THE WATER, and LABYRINTH OF DREAMS form a loose trilogy of semi-forgotten, but entirely umissibe and unique masterworks of Japanese cinema. These three are presented here with Ishii’s 1984 film, THE CRAZY FAMILY, a key bridge between his earlier anarchic punk films and his more methodical 90’s output."