Monday, February 7, 2011

Run Salary Man Run: Troubleman

DB here.

Saturday Mondocurry attended the final night of Sabu directed films at New York Japan's Society which screened Sabu's latest film Troubleman. Last night he sent me a brief piece on what transpired which I now present to you.

As I've mentioned with regard to the previous three films we saw at the series a full review will be coming- as of right now the Sabu week will begin on March 14th and we will look at all of the films that ran at the Japan Society Retrospective (except Postman Blues which we did last year) and maybe some others.

So with that I turn you over to our fair correspondent and his report:

Last night saw the end of the 6-movie Sabu retrospective at Japan Society, with somewhat mixed results. Film retrospectives tend to be organized in such a way that they end up concluding with a bang. I’m not so sure that was the case this time.

Even though Sabu’s newest work, Troubleman, was being screened, it was not so much a feature film as a 12 part drama he directed for Japanese television, and only the second half of it, at that. This may have kept some people away, who would’ve preferred watching a film, and I can’t say I would blame them. Movies are geared for viewing in one sitting, while a television series, no matter how great, is better suited to watching over a longer span of time. Add to this the fact that this portion of the series was said to be a cohesive forward-moving story that was not dependent on the earlier episodes for a full understanding. I respectfully disagree and found myself often frustrated in the gaps left by missing earlier episodes.

The audience was pretty small, in fact the numbers seemed to dwindle in general from the first few screenings, where Sabu was around for Q & A’s, until now. Amongst the audience members in the less than half-filled theater were a few regulars whom I’d seen at the other two screenings I made it to, and chances are, viewed all six of the movies. A significant percent, however, consisted of a group of teenage girls who reportedly travelled to New York from Virginia just to see the screening because the main role was played by Shigeaki Katou, a pop star represented by Japanese talent agency, Johnny’s, which deals solely in young male 'talent.' Indeed, the world of television production is a different playing field from that of film...

On the flip side, the screening provided a great 3-hour escape from some miserably damp New York City weather. It could also be considered an opportunity to see something truly rare, as there is virtually no chance of the source material receiving any official US DVD or theater release. And, perhaps most importantly, Sabu’s unique vision, complete with bursts of humor at the most unlikely moments, was still very much present. In fact, it was interesting seeing themes and visual motifs appear in a television medium, which had been explored in his film work. Considering that, I guess there was some merit to showing Troubleman after other films in the program; just not sure it worked as a fitting conclusion.

DB again- I've managed to obtain the full 12 part series on DVD. If time allows before the Sabu week, I'll be taking a look at the full series and work with Mondocurry to compare it to the shortened version that was screened at the Japan Society.

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