Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Japanese comedy coming to the Strand March 22

Join us at
the Strand
(717 Clay St.) for
Key of Life
 
$7 at the door
$5 in advance at Highway 61 Coffeehouse
 
From Twitch Film:
 
Key of Life is the sort of film that seldom plays outside of the festival circuit and that, is nothing short of a tragedy. Because as much as the typical distribution argument that films such as this - films that are too quirky for the genre crowd and too genre for the arthouse - makes a certain degree of objective sense this is simply brilliant storytelling rife with sterling performances and a completely original, completely compelling spin on both the gangster film and the romantic comedy. And, yes, you read that right.

Uchida's third feature revolves around a trinity of key characters, each of whom could easily have anchored a film all on their own but whose stories mesh into a whole even greater than the sum of its parts. 

First we meet Kanae (Hirosu Ryoko), a driven and somewhat neurotic woman pushing into her mid thirties. While she's risen through the ranks of her chosen profession, Kanae's meticulous and unemotional manner have left her a single woman and she's decided it's time for that to change. She's going to get married. She doesn't know to whom yet but she's got it all scheduled out so it's time to get cracking.

And then there is Sakurai (Sakai Masato) a failed actor who also proves to be a failure as a suicide artist. Yes, one more thing for Sakurai to feel bad about not being good at. Shaken and a little sweaty from his suicide attempt Sakurai heads to the local bath house to clean up. Because, why not? It's not like he's got anything else worthwhile on the go and he's all out of rope to hang himself with.

It's at the bath house that Sakurai meets Kondo (Kurosawa Kiyoshi regular Kagawa Teruyuki), an elite hit man looking to unwind after a job. But 'meet' may be too strong a word. Because Sakurai's first encounter with Kondo begins with the assassin flying ass over teakettle after stepping on a bar of soap and crashing to the floor, knocking himself unconscious.


At its heart Key Of Life is a movie about isolation and the desire for community, the need to be recognized and accepted, with the identity change being the mechanism that allows each of the three characters to strip away their outer facades and be at least a little bit honest about who they really are and who they want to be. Uchida is well aware of the irony of truthfulness coming out of an extended lie, the entire film delighting in finding emotional truth by subverting factual truth. 

A romantic comedy of errors with a bit of a body count and a few smashed cars, Key Of Life is an absolute delight that could not possibly come more highly recommended.

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