NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2012 Screening: MONSTERS CLUB, A Brief But Beautiful Poetic Gem

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
One of the film's playing under the co-banner of the 2012 New York Asian Film Fest and Japan Society's Japan Cuts is Toshiaki Toyoda's Monsters Club, having its US premiere this Sunday, July 15 at Japan Society.

Our correspondent Alexander Thebez with his thoughts on the film: 

Toshiaki Toyoda's Monsters Club is brief but beautiful and heart wrenching. Running only 74 minutes, Toyoda's latest feature is an angst filled, poetic gem inspired by Ted Kaczynski's manifesto against the industrial world. The film was shot without a script in two weeks, and the result is astounding.


Monsters Club follows Ryoichi (Eita), a young, cultured man who retreated into a life in the wilderness. A little hunting cabin hidden in a snow-covered mountain becomes Ryoichi's humble shelter from the world. From his cabin, Ryoichi sends bombs and angry letters to CEOs of various corporations as an attempt to repel the advancing modern life. The film is quite a feat, especially considering how the movie was achieved in such a short time period and such an improvisational manner. Slow, steady shots help emphasize a haunting, isolated feeling as we witness Ryoichi unraveling in front of our eyes. The sparse, beautiful landscape of the film grows increasingly unnerving as a mysterious monster enters Ryoichi's periphery.

We learn of Ryoichi's tragic family history as the film progresses. His siblings make an appearance one way or another: Mikana (Mayuu Kusakari), a younger sister, who tries to persuade Ryoichi to return to the so-called "industrial life" and Kenta (Ken Ken) and Yuki (Yosuke Kubozoka), the older brothers who have passed away. 

There is a lot of poetry in Monsters Club. Everything in the film has a time and place. The combination of the gorgeous visuals, an elegant script, and a heart breaking score create an experience that seems to get the message across without it being overwhelmingly cryptic, which I really appreciate. The film is not dense or complicated, but it is definitely meaningful and satisfying.

For more on Monsters Club, check out Todd's review from TIFF 2011 right here.


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