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Taboo
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Genre:Art/Foreign
Year:2000
Rating:NR
Length:1 Hour 40 Minutes
Cast:Nagisa Oshima, Beat Takeshi Kitano, Shinji Takeda, Tadanobu Asano

The way of the sword clashes with the way of the heart in Taboo, a period drama from the Japanese New Wave director Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses). Set in Kyoto in 1865, the story follows a samurai militia group as their strict and violent life is disrupted by a striking new recruit (Ryuhei Matsuda) whose androgynous beauty distracts and enthralls the highly disciplined swordsmen. Although the film is set during a crucial, transitional period in Japanese history -- the end of the Shogunate -- political and historical issues serve merely as a thematic backdrop to the subtle exploration of the male heart and libido in an almost monastic milieu. Taboo evolves into a murder mystery, with those suspected of having homosexual tendencies heading the list of murder suspects. The virtually all-male cast includes Takeshi Kitano, whose unique brand of inscrutability is well used. The result is a unique meditation on love, sexuality, and beauty with a strange and ultimately haunting resonance. Gregory Baird

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