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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

JITSUROKU RENGO SEKIGUN / UNITED RED ARMY (2007)

The late Kôji Wakamatsu was just past 70 when he made this grim, but compelling film about the small, but lethal local Maoist cult that emerged in Japan like a toxic residue after the mass global student uprisings of the late-‘60s had evaporated. The opening half hour plays out as docu-drama, with newsreel clips of the period interspersed with recreations and perhaps too much expository narration. But hang in there because the film soon evolves into a full character piece. Once the authorities start taking out key members of the ultra-left, we follow two of the most extreme organizations who join forces to secretly train in the hills for their soon-to-come labors as catalyst to the revolution with acts of violence & anarchy. But when the small cult of true-believers find themselves removed from capitalist hostilities & constant police surveillance, they start turning on themselves with deadly tests of communist purity tearing them apart from within. Political self-delusion soon has them ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ of revolutionary correctness while the authorities, more felt than seen, start to close in. Not an easy watch, and as emotionally dry as late-Godard, but powerfully argued by Wakamatsu who shows the control of a master.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: How odd that these young militants question every aspect of their own culture & society (quite rightly, too), yet blindly parrot whatever New Order dogma they are fed.

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