November 25, 1970 was the last day of Yukio Mishima's life by his own volition. Mishima was Japan's most-celebrated post-WWII author, homosexual, obsessed with eroticism and death in one form or another, keeping everyone around him at arm's length with his strange, sardonic humor and his flashy showmanship. He committed suicide after unsuccessfully attempting to take over a Japanese Self-Defense Forces garrison, wherein he exhorted the soldiers to rise up and retake Japan in the Emperor's name. Not surprisingly, they laughed at him, and then did their best to forget about him. But Japan as a whole could not, and Mishima's legacy is still potent today. His works remain in print on both sides of the Pacific, and he is still considered one of the most important Japanese authors — to say nothing of his role in Japan's turbulent post-WWII history.
Mishima is a fascinating and sometimes difficult film about a man who was just as charismatic and troubled. Directed and written (in part) by Paul Schrader, it is a close cousin to his other movies about troubled men who lash out violently at a world that does not conform to their standards: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Hardcore, and The Last Temptation of Christ. Mishima is as good as the others, although it may not be as accessible to many who are unfamiliar with the writer or his legacy. Read more