films seen
38
average score
3.26*
nationality
Japan - 59 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

One of the thriving creative voices of modern Japanese cinema. Sono's films are loud, in your face and unpredictable. Entertaining, but not without depth and vision, always challenging the status quo. It's people like Sono who keep cinema interesting.

Rare treats

Antiporno

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Anchiporuno
Specifics
2016 / 76m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Mystery
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Antiporno poster

Antiporno is a zany, extrovert and anything but subtle piece of cinema with the potential to be very divisive. It's not for everybody, but Sono fans are sure to have a blast with this one.

Tag

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Riaru Onigokko
Specifics
2015 / 85m - Japan
Genre
Horror, Mystery
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Tag poster

There are some very memorable scenes and the acting is spot on, add some nice-looking camera work and a great score and it's clear Sion Sono has another winner on his hands.

The Whispering Star

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Hiso Hiso Boshi
Specifics
2015 / 100m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Sci-fi
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
The Whispering Star poster

It's original, quirky, stylish and otherworldly, which is quite a feat considering Sono's track record. A tough cookie on the outside, but incredibly rich in taste and texture on the inside.

Tokyo Tribe

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2014 / 116m - Japan
Genre
Action, Musical
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Tokyo Tribe poster

A killer ride from beginning to end. It's brutal, outrageous, funny, weird and it has a terrific drive. If you dismiss films that are pure escapist fun, you shouldn't even venture near it.

The Forest of Love

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Ai-naki Mori de Sakebe
Specifics
2019 / 151m - Japan
Genre
Thriller, Crime
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
The Forest of Love poster

The Forest of Love is a film about a loose canon in a world gone mad. As things start to spiral out of control, Sono rids himself of every last bit of restraint and delivers a film full of raw energy and excess, raging towards a completely warped and grueling finale. Not for the faint of heart, but Sono fans are sure to have a blast with this one.

Why Don't You Play in Hell?

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Jigoku de Naze Warui
Specifics
2013 / 126m - Japan
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Why Don't You Play in Hell? poster

Watching Why Don't You Play In Hell? will tell you a few things about Sono's dreams and aspirations as a young director.

Cold Fish

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Tsumetai Nettaigyo
Specifics
2010 / 144m - Japan
Genre
Thriller
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Cold Fish poster

Cold Fish is a film that will sit well with those who appreciate awkward, cruel and excessive Japanese cinema.

Strange Circus

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Kimyo na Sakasu
Specifics
2005 / 108m - Japan
Genre
Horror
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Strange Circus poster

Strange Circus is a stellar film that still counts as one of Sono's absolute best efforts to date. The subject matter is rather risqué though and Sono's approach is far from subtle.

Himizu

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2011 / 129m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Thriller
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Himizu poster

The first fifteen minutes where a little though, but once Sumida starts his descent into madness the film never back down.

Tokyo Vampire Hotel - The Movie

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2017 / 142m - Japan
Genre
Fantasy, Horror
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
Tokyo Vampire Hotel - The Movie poster

Absolutely batshit crazy vampire flick from Sono. This film is the condensed version of the TV series and it does show in places (the pacing and stylistic finish can be a bit wobbly), but man it this a blast. Colorful cinematography, colorful characters, gallons of blood, Sono's signature madness and an onslaught of memorable moments make this an absolute delight. I'm actually interested in watching the series now, though I'm glad I watched the film version first. A delight.

The good stuff

Shinjuku Swan II

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Shinjuku Suwan II
Specifics
2017 / 133m - Japan
Genre
Action, Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Shinjuku Swan II poster

A fine sequel to the first film, that succeeds in offering more of the same, only in a slightly different way. Tadanobu Asano is a real asset, Sono's talent is unmistakable and while a bit long, the film never drags or gets boring. If you liked the first film, this is an easy recommend, just make sure to watch that one first.

Love/Exposure

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Ai no Mukidashi
Specifics
2008 / 237m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Love/Exposure poster

Don't let that hold you back though. Love Exposure is a great experience, offering lots of weirdness, fun and shock while never boring its audience.

Exte: Hair Extensions

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Ekusute
Specifics
2007 / 108m - Japan
Genre
Horror
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Exte: Hair Extensions poster

Exte: Hair Extensions might feel like his most commercial film to date, but that is mostly a disguise. It's a fun, crazy and surprisingly eerie film.

Shinjuku Swan

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Shinjuku Suwan
Specifics
2015 / 139m - Japan
Genre
Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Shinjuku Swan poster

What Shinjuku Swan may lack in originality, it makes up for in rock-solid execution.

Guilty of Romance

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Koi no Tsumi
Specifics
2011 / 144m - Japan
Genre
Thriller
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Guilty of Romance poster

Guilty of Romance may not be Sono's brightest, most ambitious or most accomplished work, but it's a more than solid addition to Sono's already strong oeuvre.

Solid pieces

Red Post on Escher Street

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Escher Dori no Akai Posuto
Specifics
2020 / 149m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Red Post on Escher Street poster

Sono's latest is a pretty light film. There's none of his usual craziness (or at least, very little), there's no excessive violence, harsh drama or over-the-top absurdities. It's actually a film you can watch with your family around. So instead we get a slightly larger than life comedy that meanders from beginning to end.

Kobayashi is a popular and respected director. For his next film he's looking for a cast of amateur actors, so he spreads his casting call around and accepts all the applications. The film plays like a series of vignettes, detailing the lives of all the people who applied for the audition.

150 minutes is a bit much for a film with no clear endgame. Performances are good (Morgan Mara is a real find - I'm certain we'll be seeing her again), the cinematography is nice and there are some solid smiles, but in the end it lacks something that kept me fully engaged for the entire runtime. Not Sono's best, but even his more pedestrian films are well worth a watch.

Love & Peace

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Rabu & Pîsu
Specifics
2015 / 117m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Romance, Musical
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Love & Peace poster

The Virgin Psychics

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Eiga: Minna! Esupâ Da Yo!
Specifics
2015 / 114m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Mystery
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Virgin Psychics poster

The Land of Hope

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Kibô no Kuni
Specifics
2012 / 133m - Japan, Taiwan
Genre
Drama, Sci-fi
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Land of Hope poster

Be Sure to Share

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Chanto Tsutaeru
Specifics
2009 / 109m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Be Sure to Share poster

Hazard

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2005 / 103m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Hazard poster

Into a Dream

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Yume no Naka E
Specifics
2005 / 103m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Into a Dream poster

The Real Body

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Utsushimi
Specifics
2000 / 110m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Real Body poster

Prisoners of the Ghostland

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2021 / 103m - Japan, USA
Genre
Action, Horror
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Prisoners of the Ghostland poster

The mere idea of Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage making a film together made many cult fan drool uncontrollably. And sure enough, it did sound like a pretty perfect combination. This could very well become Sono's Sukiyaki Western Django, though I'm sure Sono himself would resent the Miike comparison. Sadly for him, Miike also did it better.

The premise is pretty simple, which is normal considering this is more or less a Mad Max clone. The governor's daughter has run away, so he straps a jailed criminal into a highly explosive suit, and he gives him five days to find her. The post-apocalyptic wastelands are very hazardous territory though, so finding her and taking her back in one piece won't be a trivial task.

Marrying Japanese and American influences within a film is never easy, and there are moments when Sono stumbles. There's plenty of crazy and the film certainly has its share of memorable ideas, but it never really culminates in the cult cool you'd expect from a project like this. The sets are creative and colorful, the characters are mad and the pacing is perfect, even so the film lacks impact. A minor disappointment.

The inoffensive

Balloon Club, Afterwards

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Kikyû Kurabu, Sonogo
Specifics
2006 / 93m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Balloon Club, Afterwards poster

Noriko's Dinner Table

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Noriko no Shokutaku
Specifics
2005 / 159m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Horror
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Noriko's Dinner Table poster

Suicide Circle

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Jisatsu Sâkuru
Specifics
2001 / 99m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Suicide Circle poster

The Room

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Heya
Specifics
1993 / 92m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Thriller
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Room poster

Worthy but flawed

Make the Last Wish

by Sion Sono
Specifics
2009 / 109m - Japan
Genre
Mystery, Thriller
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Make the Last Wish poster

A strange mix of supernatural, thriller and documentary elements. Sono crashes an Avril Lavigne fan contest and weaves his own story through it. The result is a little messy and the film doesn't feel very polished, but it's an intriguing mess that did keep me engaged from start to finish. Far from Sono's best, but decent filler nonetheless.

Dubious filler

Bad Film

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Warui Eiga
Specifics
2012 / 161m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Action, Crime
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Bad Film poster

I Am Keiko

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Keiko Desu Kedo
Specifics
1997 / 61m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
I Am Keiko poster

Love

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Ai
Specifics
1986 / 31m - Japan
Genre
Romance, Experimental
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Love poster

Another early Sono short, where he once again features as the lead character. This time he's madly in love (hence the title), though I'm not sure if it matters all that much. These films seem to follow a pretty fixed structure, where Sono is basically filming his young, hyperactive self.

The technical qualities are poor and amateurish, the image quality is extremely grainy, the camera work is rough and the use of the soundtrack is very basic. Half of the time it's just Sono himself shouting things at the camera, the other half are some random scenes that hardly connect to the broader whole.

But there's a lot of energy and even though individual scenes don't really impress, the whole is vibrant and alive. It does offer an interesting window in Sono's mind and fans of the man's work will have an easy time connecting the dots, as a stand-alone work it isn't quite as interesting though.

I Am Sono Sion!

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Ore Wa Sono Sion Da!
Specifics
1985 / 35m - Japan
Genre
Documentary
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
I Am Sono Sion! poster

A very early documentary from Sion Sono, where he turns the camera on himself. Don't expect to be informed though, it's really just Sono going crazy with a camera and experimenting away. It's as crazy as you'd expect an early Sono to be, though you have to wonder whether this was ever meant to be released.

Image and sound quality are absolutely terrible. The grainy cinematography, fuzzy image quality and haphazard camera work are no doubt due to the poor equipment and Sono's own inexperience, some will consider it part of the charm, but I'm not a big fan. It just comes off as very amateurish.

Still, Sono's potential is already clearly visible. There are some strange stop motion bits, exaggerated sound, a lot of random weirdness and Sono himself clowning around. It's an interesting film for fans of the man's work, or people who love crazy and experimental documentaries, just don't expect anything polished.

Plain forgettable

Bicycle Sighs

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Jitensha Toiki
Specifics
1990 / 93m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Bicycle Sighs poster

Big nopes

Venice 70: Future Reloaded

by Hala Abdallah, John Akomfrah, Catherine Breillat, Júlio Bressane, Rama Burshtein, Antonio Capuano, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Isabel Coixet, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Claire Denis, Lav Diaz, Amit Dutta, Atom Egoyan, Aleksey Fedorchenko, Frédéric Fonteyne, James Franco, Lluís Galter, Haile Gerima, Aleksey German, Amos Gitai, Sang-soo Hong, Benoît Jacquot, Zhangke Jia, Semih Kaplanoglu, Abbas Kiarostami, Yorgos Lanthimos, Pablo Larraín, Tobias Lindholm, Guido Lombardi, Jazmín López, Samuel Maoz, Pietro Marcello, Brillante Mendoza, Celina Murga, Amir Naderi, Shirin Neshat, Nicolás Pereda, Franco Piavoli, Giuseppe Piccioni, Edgar Reitz, João Pedro Rodrigues, Walter Salles, Paul Schrader, Ulrich Seidl, Luca Severi, Sion Sono, Jean-Marie Straub, Tusi Tamasese, Tariq Teguia, Pablo Trapero, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Teresa Villaverde, Bing Wang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrew Wonder, Yonfan, Krzysztof Zanussi, Karim Aïnouz, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jan Cvitkovic, Davide Ferrario, Monte Hellman, Marlen Khutsiev, Milcho Manchevski, Franco Maresco, Salvatore Mereu, Ermanno Olmi, Michele Placido, Todd Solondz, Shekhar Kapur, Heeraz Marfatia, Ki-duk Kim, Shinya Tsukamoto
Specifics
2013 / 120m - USA
Genre
Documentary
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Venice 70: Future Reloaded poster

Decisive Match! Girls Dorm against Boys Dorm

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Kessen! Joshiryou tai Danshiryou
Specifics
1988 / 90m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Decisive Match! Girls Dorm against Boys Dorm poster

A Man's Flower Road

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Otoko no Hanamichi
Specifics
1986 / 110m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
A Man's Flower Road poster

Irritation overload

Teachers of Sexual Play: Modelling Urns with the Female Body

by Sion Sono
Also known as
Seigi no Tatsujin - Nyotai Tsubo Saguri
Specifics
2000 / 59m - Japan
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
0.5*/5.0*
Teachers of Sexual Play: Modelling Urns with the Female Body poster