© Rapid Eye Movies HE GmbH

Japan 2018

Opening 26 Dec 2019

Directed by: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Writing credits: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Principal actors: Shô Aoyagi, Keita Machida, Nobuyuki Suzuki

SABU, whose real name is Hiroyuki Tanaka, is a well-known guest at international film festivals all over the world. He started his career as an actor, but since the 1990s his main interest lies in directing. One of his first internationally successful and premiered movies was Postman Blues in 1997His films very often portray ordinary people who, through some twist of fate, end up in extreme situations. SABU follows his protagonists with deep empathy and respect, and JAM is a classic example of this kind of black-humored comedy.

In JAM, three stories, which take place in one single day, come together in a ludicrous but brilliant finale, which in fact you see twice, once in the opening scene, and then again towards the end (I say towards, because you should not miss an additional scene at the end of the credits). Set in the coastal city of Fukuoka, we have Hiroshi (Sho Aoyagi), an over-the-hill pop (enka) singer, whose main audience consists of single middle-aged women. After one of his concerts, he gets kidnapped by an obsessed fan (Mariko Tsutsui), who takes him to her apartment and forces him to compose a song for her which he should perform at his next concert (the scene is reminiscent of 'Misery'). We also have Tetsuo (Noboyuki Suzuki), who, fresh out of jail, looks for revenge on two other low-level gangsters who had abandoned him to take the fall for their crime. Tetsuo is also pushing his grandmother, sitting in a wheelchair and suffering from Alzheimer's, around the city, aimlessly. And we have Takeru (Keita Machida), a chauffeur, whose girlfriend is in hospital in a coma, after she was shot in a police chase years earlier. A clairvoyant told Takeru that a few good deeds done every day would heal his girlfriend. He notices the two gangsters apparently looking for a ride, and offers his help, not knowing that they are planning a hold-up. We breathlessly watch everybody's lives come together like bullet trains crashing together. 102 minutes; Japanese with German or English subtitles.  (Ulrike Lemke)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.