SHINJUKU SWAN II
Directed by Sion Sono
Official Selection, 2017 Fantasia Film Festival
This ain’t the boy scouts. Tatsuhiko (Gou Ayano) is back as the leading scout and recruiter for his boss Sek (Motoki Fukami), who provides hostesses for night clubs in Shinjuku. When the big bosses want to expand to Yokohama, Tatsuhiko runs afoul with Tak (the one-and-only Tadanobu Asano), who isn’t about to let a small fry step onto his turf. Longtime secrets will be revealed, loyalties will be tested, and needless to say, things are going to get messy.
This is Sion Sono at his most populist, churning out a sequel to a manga adaptation told with reverence for the material and the spirit of the stars. But Sono does apply his signature high energy, with a predilection for wild costumes, tawdry mise-en-scene, and busty women, and an anxiety over how individuals manage a sense of control as the usual comforts spin away. Sono offers generous concern for how power and security are woven between the yakuza, big business, the cops, and the pimpery class. There’s also a nostalgia for ritualistic integrity that spans generations and industries – even adult entertainment – that’s far from progressive, but that gives this masculine world a gentle, beating heart. –Eric Lallana