Sion Sono Appreciation Society Podcast Part 1

Welcome to the Sion Sono Appreciation Society Suicide Season podcast. By Society I mean Goregirl and I, but that’s still a pretty awesome line-up. Anyway this is the first of two podcasts which will analyse some of Sono’s output. The two podcasts originally started out as a general discussion of his films in general but we decided to focus on his titles that gravitate closer to horror. In this episode we look at two of his greatest films, Suicide Circle and Noriko’s Dinner Table. Despite my rather lame attempts at trying to add structure to the conversation this is pretty much two cinephiles discussing whatever comes to mind. We go pretty in depth and there are some spoilers so if you have not watched the films yet then you might want to view them.

I hope you enjoy. My thanks go out to Goregirl for her brilliant performance!

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Genkina-hito-Sono-Season-Noriko's-Dinner-Table-Kumiko

Noriko’s Dinner Table 紀子の食卓 (2006)

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Noriko’s Dinner Table                                                   Noriko's Dinner Table Poster

International Title: Noriko’s Dinner Table

Romaji: Noriko no Shokutaku

Japanese Title: 紀子の食卓

Release Date: 23rd September 2006 (Japan)

Running Time: 159 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Kazue Fukiishi, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Tsugumi, Ken Mitsuishi, Sanae Miyata, Shiro Namiki, Tamae Ando, Toru Tezuka, Yoko Mitsuya

Noriko’s Dinner Table is billed as the prequel to Suicide Circle and while it may be set in the same universe and explore the same ideas it drops gore for a more intimate and surreal story.

Noriko Shimabara (Fukiishi) is an inexperienced girl who lives a quiet and comfortable life with her journalist father Tetsuzo (Mitsuishi), her mother Taeko (Miyata), and her younger sister Yuka (Yoshitaka) in Toyokawa. Noriko craves excitement and wants to head to a university in Tokyo but her conservative father is set against it and wants Noriko to head to a local university. Noriko feels alienated from her parents but finds refuge in the internet on the site Haikyo.com, a place where teenagers from across Japan gather. Noriko grows especially fond of the website’s chief who goes under the username Ueno Station 54. Noriko runs away from home to Tokyo and meets Ueno Station 54 at Locker #54 in Ueno station. The mysterious Ueno Station 54 turns out to be a young woman named Kumiko (Tsugumi) who introduces Noriko to her business named I.C. Corp which offers clients actors who provide role-play services.  Noriko falls into this shadowy world of role-playing. Six months later, 54 school girls act out their roles and jump in front of a train at Shinjuku station. Back in Toyokawa, Noriko’s sister Yuka has become a member of Haikyo and aims to track down Noriko. In order to do this she heads to Tokyo. This sets in motion Tetsuzo’s search for his daughters and his investigation into a cult named Suicide Club.

Noriko’s Dinner Table is based on a novel Sion Sono wrote in 2002 named Suicide Circle: The Complete Edition which wraps around the events of Suicide Circle, resolving questions and expanding on the story and themes.

Making links between the two films is interesting as we get an insight into who orchestrated the chaos of Suicide Circle and their motives. Whether you wanted an explanation of the site haikyo.com or a behind-the-scenes of some of the most audacious moments of the first film you will get it but as a follow-up to Suicide Circle’s gory events Noriko’s Dinner Table feels very different thanks to its restraint in dealing out black humour, horror and violence. They never overwhelm proceedings but inform them. Noriko’s Dinner Table shows that Sono has grown as a writer and director and he has thought carefully about what he wants to film.

I was ripe for growth

In essence this is a mystery/family drama about existential growth. Noriko’s Dinner Table leaves behind the spectacle of mass suicide and gives a more fulsome examination of the issues of alienation, the generation gap between parents and children, and the battle between individual authenticity and conformism.

Noriko and Her Family in Noriko's Dinner Table

Continue reading “Noriko’s Dinner Table 紀子の食卓 (2006)”

Sion Sono Appreciation Society (Part 2 – Suicide Edition)

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Regular readers of this blog will be more than aware of the fact that I like the films of Sion Sono. Earlier this year I had a season of reviews for his films in the run-up to the UK premiere of Himizu. I left off a major title, Suicide Circle, because I had yet to get its prequel Noriko’s Dinner Table but I recently rectified that by purchasing it. So this week there will be another season dedicated to him with lengthy (potentially boring?) interpretations/reviews of Suicide Circle and Noriko’s Dinner Table. I’m not alone in this endeavour because Goregirl will be bringing her considerable opinion to the table when we discuss Sono’s films in a number of podcasts.

In other movie news… I have the honour of being this week’s participant in the My Movie Influence strand over at Inspired Ground. I won’t spoil the surprise as to which movie I picked (you will never be able to guess it) so head on over and check it out. My thanks go out to Andina!

Anyway, brace yourself for some gore and existential angst for the next week and a bit as we dig into some more Sono films.

Suicide Circle

Noriko’s Dinner Table