Nagisa Oshima, the acclaimed Japanese director best known for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), In the Realm of the Senses (1976) and Empire of Passion (1978), died of pneumonia early today at age 80. Greatly inspired by French master Jean-Luc Godard, Oshima began his directing career in 1959, around the time of the French New Wave. His films, which politicized sex and art, were deemed pornographic and once even landed the controversial director in jail for obscenity. Violence at Noon (1966), an unflinching portrait of a rapist and murderer, is often considered Oshima’s finest work. The director’s last film was Taboo (1999). We learned the sad news of Oshima’s death this morning from the Guardian.