PANG Ho-Cheung

PANG Ho-Cheung
With Hong Kong director PANG Ho-cheung after interviewing him in 2012

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ACF 863: MONDAY leads off retrospective of films by Sabu tonight at Japan Society

Takagi (Shinichi Tsutsumi) dances it up

Monday
Written and directed by Sabu
Japan, 2000, 100 minutes
When: Wednesday January 26, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
Introduction and Q&A with director Sabu
Opening screening will be followed by an afterparty

Salaryman Takagi (Sabu regular Shinichi Tsutsumi) wakes up one Monday morning with the mother of all hangovers, fully clothed in a hotel room with no idea of how he got there and no memory of what happened over the previous weekend.

An envelope of purification salt, which is used to ward off evil spirits during a funeral, stimulates his recollections of what went on during the very bizarre preceding 48 hours.

As his memory returns, Takagi recalls -- and the viewing audience witnesses in a series of flashbacks -- the disarming of a potentially dangerous pacemaker, a meal with his girlfriend that went horribly wrong, drunken debauchery with a snarly young yakuza, and sundry other developments of madness and mayhem.

Takagi and Yuko, the yakuza girl (Yasuko Matsuyuki)

Tonight's screening of Monday is the first of six films by Sabu that constitute Japan Society's mini-series Run, Salaryman, Run! A Retropsective of SABU's Film Works, which runs through February 5th. Sabu, a writer and actor (he was Kaneko in Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer) as well as a director, is an iconoclastic filmmaker with a unique sensibility marked by dark humor and a sense of the absurd. He's made a total of eleven films to date and has also directed for TV (Troubleman, which will be the last film shown in the series on February 5th). Usagi Drop , his most recent film, is in post-production and due out later this year.

I was not familiar with his work before watching the screener of Monday that I received. As I write this I've seen some of the other films that will be shown in this series -- an all too rare exposure of his films in the U.S. -- and have a better take on him than when I'd only seen Monday. His pace is sometimes slower than we're accustomed to in the west, and some scenes go on longer than what we're used to. But it was not at all like I felt like I was watching paint dry; just experiencing a somewhat different cinematic sensibility of timing and pace.

Sabu's works will not appeal to all. If you're looking for a straight-forward narrative style and conventional humor, his works probably won't appeal much to you, if at all.

But if you're after an experience that's hip, eccentric, twisted and very amusing, Monday will reward you quite handsomely. 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended.

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