Essential Big Screen 2023
Screening Dates
  • December 8, 2023 8:40
  • December 16, 2023 6:30
  • December 26, 2023 8:30
New Restoration

Hana-bis action turns on a tension between [its] moments of stillness and flashes of intense, penetrative violence … The result is a taut atmosphere of explosive calm.”

Dan Edwards, Senses of Cinema

A wounded self-portrait in the shape of a one last job” plot, Kitano Beat” Takeshi’s first onscreen performance following a near-fatal motorcycle accident pushed the boundaries of his art while sacrificing nothing of his trademark mood, compositional exactitude, and editing punctuations. A strange and grand encompassing of both sentiment and brutal violence, Hana-bi, which landed an uncontested spot in our Top Ten of the 1990s” series, follows Nishi (Beat Takeshi), a career cop who suddenly strips away all connections to that life after his partner is forced to retire and his wife is given a terminal diagnosis. Pointillist paintings, created by Kitano while recovering from his injuries, play a large role in offsetting the explosive recursions of Nishi’s old way of life. In its own taciturn way, this might be what Tokyo Story looks like in Kitano’s bleeding world: a uniquely contemplative, sensational, and unforgiving work of cinema.

In Japanese with English subtitles

Golden Lion
Venice Film Festival 1997

As full of shocking, staccato brutality as meditative calm … [Hana-bis] tight close-ups of sumptuous paintings and drawings (by Kitano), with their saturated colors and surreal yet iconic imagery, are as forceful as the depictions of the gruesome maimings and killings that enable Nishi to keep the future at bay.”

Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader

One of the great films of the 1990s, by one of the world’s most remarkable filmmakers … [Hana-bi] builds to magnificent, epiphanic moments, but Kitano’s masterpiece never becomes mawkish: the hard truths of pain and mortality are always close at hand.”

Adrian Martin, The Age (Melbourne)