Sunday, April 24, 2011

Drive (2002)

Sabu's transitional film. It is his last film with his friend Shin'ichi Tsutsumi who acts as a kind of stand in, and the this film marks a kind ending before a change of direction, a direction of experimentation and some darkness.

I originally saw this film back in February as part of the Japan Society's retrospective of Sabu films and it blew me away. There is something wonderful and life affirming about the film.

The film begins with a discussion between a doctor and a patient about headaches. What causes them and how to deal with them. From there we see out hero Asakura sitting at a light, watching a young girl at a flower shop. We sense the longing. The idyll is interrupted when the car doors open an into the car come barreling three masked bank robbers. "Follow that Car!" they shout. And as soon as the light turns green Asakura chases after the car... at exactly the speed limit, following all of the rules of the road...

Where the film wanders off from there is the film.

Actually where the film wanders from there is into the territory where action/comedy meet philosophy.

I know who wants philosophy in their action comedy, but I assure you that's what makes the film so wonderful, so charming.

The philosophy here is that of Buddhism. the notion of karma, of fate hundreds of years in the coming...

Where the film is going is set up in two wonderful back to back scenes. One is a scene in a restaurant. Here the three robbers and our hero discuss what to do to find their missing comrade, and also the notion of fate and karma and how the long dead may still be with us since it seems that Asakura has a dead relative around him who is trying to tell him something.

This is followed by a scene that is one of my most favorite in any film I've ever seen. It involves punk rock music and a discussion of fate and the way one should live. Its so truly amazing and odd as the mix sounds it's brilliant. As with all Sabu films I could tell you exactly what happens and even then you'll still not expect what you get. Then again if I told you what happens in this scene and later in the film you won't have the joy of finding out for yourself what happens.

I loved this film a great deal. I was really impressed with it. However as I walked out of the screening I found the more I thought about the film, the more I liked it. I found myself texting and calling friends to tell them they had to see this film. Actually I called up one friend to ask him to try and find it for me because I had to have a copy of it. (I still haven't found one- at least an affordable one with English subtitles)

You need to keep an eye out for this film. If you get the chance to see this either at a screening or on DVD do so. It will impress the hell out of you. I know it impressed me.

I know you're probably wondering why a Buddhist film about fate and all that is doing on Easter Sunday. I don't rightly know myself. All I know is that it somehow felt right to put it here. Since it's a Sabu film it actually makes perfect sense since his films, as you've seen off and on over the last 10 weeks, are constantly filled with left turns and unexpected twists that are right on target. He is a filmmaker who somehow understands life and what it means to be alive.... At least I hope that's what you've come away from the reviews since his films are ridiculously difficult to see.

Do yourself a favor, make an effort and try and track down his films, they will make you think about things in a new way.

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