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.
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.
Antiporno is a great example of why Japan's pinku films enjoy such a peculiar status among film fans and why it's been such a fertile breeding ground for young, talented directors.
Whatever the case though, Tag is a unique film. It kept me guessing the entire way through, there are some very memorable scenes and the acting is spot on.
Watching Why Don't You Play In Hell? will tell you a few things about Sono's dreams and aspirations as a young director.
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.
Cold Fish is a film that will sit well with those who appreciate awkward, cruel and excessive Japanese cinema.
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.
The first fifteen minutes where a little though, but once Sumida starts his descent into madness the film never back down.
The good stuff
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.
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.
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.
What Shinjuku Swan may lack in originality, it makes up for in rock-solid execution.
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 & Peace
The Virgin Psychics
The Land of Hope
Be Sure to Share
Into a Dream
The Real Body
Balloon Club, Afterwards
Noriko's Dinner Table
Worthy but flawed
Make the Last Wish
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.
I Am Keiko
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!
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.