With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, February 04, 2011

ACF 875: Sabu's The Blessing Bell at Japan Society

The Blessing Bell © 2002 The Blessing Bell Film Partners

Walk, Salaryman, Walk!

The Blessing Bell / Kofuku no Kane
Written and directed by Sabu
Japan, 2002, 87 minutes
When: Friday, February 4th 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

Netpac Award, 2003 Berlin International Film Festival
Grand Jury Prize, 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival

Japan Society's Sabu film series continues tonight with this tale of Igarashi (Susumu Terajima). a blue collar salaryman whose factory has shut down. We follow him over the course of 24 hours as he takes a remarkable walk, a journey into wide-ranging and strange experiences. These include a yakuza who wishes to donate his organs, a murderer who's killed his wife's lover but not her, a dying (or perhaps already dead) man in a hospital (played by director emeritus Seijun Suzuki, who I understand has done a lot of acting in recent years), a lottery ticket and more.

For me, the remarkable thing about the film was that it is a nearly silent movie. There's no music, only some environmental sounds (such as the sound of a train or of car tires screeching), and minimal dialogue. In fact, I don't think the protagonist says much of anything until the end of the film, and then he's not really on camera.

Also Terajima (who has significant roles in Sabu's Monday, Drive, and Troubleman, which will be shown on Saturday), reminds me of Buster Keaton, not only in his slender build and thin face, but also in his stoical expression. Regardless of what befalls him, and sometimes the film seems like a variation on the biblical story of Job, Igarashi meets it with calmness and resignation.

The Blessing Bell (and I have no idea to what the title refers) is a most unusual film, even for Sabu. But it's also intriguing, inventive, and fascinating.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

For info about The Blessing Bell and to order tickets, click here.

For info about and to order tickets for Saturday afternoon's screening of Troubleman, the final presentation in the series, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.