Saturday, July 6, 2019
Nate Hood's 400 words on Sabu's Jam (2018) NYAFF 2019
Both of these storylines unfortunately feel like pale imitations of other, better movies: it’s impossible to watch Hiroshi’s story without having flashbacks of Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990) and Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982), while Tetsuo feels ripped straight out of Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy (2003) what with his imperviousness to pain, bedraggled appearance, and use of a hammer as his primary weapon.
It’s only the third and final storyline that feels truly original, and it’s here that we see the dark humor that’s characterized so much of Sabu’s career. It centers on a young man named Takeru (Keita Machida), a good-natured fellow with cosmically bad luck. After his girlfriend is accidentally shot and sent into a coma while a bystander to the heist where Tetsuo got arrested, he receives a vision from God telling him that if he does three good deeds a day she’ll wake up. However, his good deeds seem to backfire, such as almost getting lynched after getting mistaken for a pedophile while trying to help a crying little girl. In his eagerness to help others, he inadvertently becomes the getaway driver to a duo of robbers. Their next big score? An upcoming Hiroshi concert.
Jam is an occasionally charming genre exercise, but an ultimately hollow one, as it never demonstrates any underlying philosophy or ideas; there’s a recognition of fate and coincidence, but no conclusions about them. There isn’t even a point about pointlessness.