72 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by: Toshiaki Toyoda
Starring: Eita, Ken Ken, Yosuke Kubozuka
Special guest, director Toshiaki Toyoda, will attend the screening!
Sunday, July 15 @ 6pm (buy tickets)
Poetry is a weapon, and in Toshiaki Toyoda’s MONSTERS CLUB that weapon is a letter bomb. Struck by the lightning bolt of inspiration after reading Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto, Director Toyoda grabbed his cast and headed up into the mountains where he shot without a script for two weeks, retelling the Unabomber story from the point of view of the bomber. The result is a movie so horrified by modern living that you’ll be blinded if you stare at it for too long. People can accuse it of being overly-poetic but approach it on its wavelength and what you get is the story of a man who cannot tolerate living in the fallen world we’ve built for ourselves, but who also can’t live apart from it.
Ryoichi has withdraw to a snowbound mountain cabin where he mails out letter bombs to corrupt CEOs, writes in his journal, and goes about the hard business of living off the grid: hunting, cleaning, cooking, and chopping infinite quantities of firewood. But you can’t escape society, it’s too big and too hungry to let anyone go for long. Haunted by a monster (inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s Totoro, and played by Japan’s genius pansexual drag artist, Pyuupiru) Ryoichi is dragged closer and closer to returning to civilization, a move that threatens to shatter him into pieces.
Toshiaki Toyoda is the kind of directorial talent who comes along rarely (Shinya Tsukamoto and Atom Egoyan come to mind as comparisons) and his refusal to water down his works or make concessions to mainstream tastes is frustrating, inspiring, and very brave. His earlier movies, Blue Spring and 9 Souls, won numerous prizes at international film festivals, but his career came screeching to a halt when he was arrested for drug possession in 2005. In a society like Japan, where drug use is universally condemned, that would be enough to end most careers, but he refused to hide in shame, owned up to his mistakes, and kept making movies. In Monsters Club, he examines the place he finds himself: stuck between hating the graveyard we’ve made of our planet, but unable to survive alone. Ultimately, to quote a cliche, no man is an island, a fact of life that makes Toyoda want to scream, and scream, and scream.