Alexander Sokurov achieved considerable art house success with his 2002 Russian Ark, and with that newfound clout he returns to complete his "dictator" trilogy. The rather grim Moloch (1999), about a weekend with Hitler in his bunker, is available on DVD. Telets (2001), which as far as I can tell, never found much of a U.S. audience, was about Lenin, and now we get the surprisingly enjoyable The Sun, depicting the last days in power of Emperor Hirohito. (Please see also the very capable Martha Fischer's previous review from NYFF.)

Issei Ogata (Yi Yi, Tony Takitani) gives an amazing performance as Hirohito, waited on hand and foot, and barely able to dress himself. He's considered a quasi-deity by his people, too important to bother with the mundane details of mere human life. He has an odd tick in which his lips puff in and out, as if he were speaking and we simply can't hear him, or as if he were a fish out of water, gasping for breath. He spends a good deal of time writing bad poetry and letters to his son, as well as puttering with his hobby, marine biology.

categories Cinematical