Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:57 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 3798
Location: California/NYC
KEN EGUCHI: THE FABLE (2019) - NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

Image
YUYA YAGIRA AND JUN'ICHI OKADA IN THE FABLE

Being "normal" is too difficult for a yakuza hitman

This wildly absurd, over-the-top gangster film (but aren't they all?) has just that extra edge of absurdity that is explained by one thing: it's from manga. The central figure, "the Fable," pronounced "za faburu," a legendary yakuza hit man whose existence some think is purely mythical till they find out otherwise, is Sato (Jun'ichi Okada), an ace, invincible professional killer put on leave by his boss (Kôichi Satô). His orders are to act "normal" for one year, because his boss thinks "top assassins need that skill." Sato goes underground in Osaka (at first exaggeratedly imitating the rural Osaka accent) with his hotshot female sidekick. He starts dressing in casual, nondescript clothes. He is commanded to get a "normal" job. It's hard for him to find work because he refuses to pretend he likes any activity he might be hired to do. Finally Sato meets Misaki (Mizuki Yamamoto), a charming women, who helps him work at a publisher as a handyman. There, he develops a new talent, raising his pay from 800 yen an hour to 900 (laughably little either way for a hit man), by doing childlike doodle-drawings that seem so charming to the boss because they "make people happy." These drawings indulge a kind of cuteness peculiar to the Japanese taste.

This film notably also notably contains Yûya Yagira, who won the Best Actor award at Cannesin 2004 at the uniquely young age of 14 for his first movie role n Hirakasu Koreeda's extraordinary Nobody Knows (誰も知らない Dare mo Shiranai). Here Yagira takes the role of Kojima, a wild, absurdly egotistical and histrionic young gangster type just released from eight years in prison. The boss has trouble keeping Kojima in check, being, through much of the film, in the hospital for a stroke. (He has to have someone else keep an eye on Sato.) The boss has ordered Kojima to do nothing till he is up and about to watch over him. But that doesn't quite work. This story is about the need for control. Yagira's wild histrionics, his facial expressions and drawn out, comically menacing or chortling speech, help make this clear manga material and more a caricature of a gangster movie than a serious one.

Masaki has posed for "art" photos. When Kojima finds this out and starts trying to force Masaki to pose for porn, Masaki is in danger, and when Sato finds out about this, he cannot allow it. He is going to have to find a way of getting around his overlord's restrictions on his behavior. This finally leads to a prolonged sequence of violent martial arts action involving hand-to-hand combat and shooting. The movie is quite restrained till then, late in the game, it explodes into wild but carefully choreographed chaos on a network of railings and metal and concrete stairways. The sound of the bullets clatters deliciously and so does the click of feet on metal. All this is reportedly staged "by Jackie Clan's crew." The festival blurb concludes, "The Fable is a vibrant pastiche of kinetic storytelling, wry humor, nail-biting suspense, and hyperbolic action." It's kinda true, but you might enjoy this a lot more if you keep reminding yourself, "Forget it Jake, it's manga."

The original manga is by Katsuhisa Minami,the screenplay by Watanabe Yutsuke.

In his "normal" life Sato keeps a parakeet in his room, his only decoration, which reminded me of Alain Delon's canary in Jean-Pierre Melville's classic Le Samouraï . But if Eguchi could achieve the iconic austerity of Melville, he'd have made quite another movie. ( I didn't even get to the legendary origin story flashbacks of this chock-full film.)

The Fable ザ・ファブル (kitagana transliteration for "Fable"), 125 mins., has four festival releases listed in June and July 2019, starting with Shanghai June 15, and including the NYAFF, where it was screened for this review.
NYFF showtime
Tuesday, July 2
6:00 PM
Walter Reade Theater


Image

_________________
©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 15 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group