My Blood and Bones in a Flowing Galaxy (2021): Written and directed by Sabu. Starring: Anna Ishii, Taishi Nakagawa, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Kai Inowaki, and Kaya Kiyohara. Running Time: 126 minutes.
The more of his stuff I see, the more I like Sabu. He always finds unique ways to take whatever elements he's throwing together in his latest film in directions that make it impossible to predict where it's going. I can't say that his newest film hits quite the same heights of Mr. Long or Dancing Mary, but it still has a great, big beating heart and plenty of tricks up its sleeve that kept me guessing.
Kiyosumi has spent his life idolizing his father, who died on the day of his birth rescuing people from a sinking bus. He, too, dreams of being a "hero," though I suspect that at the start of the film he wouldn't be able to tell you what, exactly, that means. His mother seems to have encouraged this instinct in him by regularly speaking of the "Three Rules of Being a Hero." He starts to notice that a girl in one of the junior classes at his high school is regularly (and pretty viciously) bullied by most of her class, with a few exceptions. He starts to stick up for her in ways big and small, which immediately catch the attention of the rest of the class and earn him the moniker "Senior Time."
At first, it seems to work, and Hari starts to open up in ways no one thought possible. The film is only halfway over at this point, though, so obviously there's more to this than meets the eye. When Hari starts to regress again, Kiyosumi begins to notice signs that she might be facing abuse at home of a sort far worse than the pranks inflicted on her at school. Being, as we've established, a "hero," he takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of Hari's family and what, exactly, she doesn't seem to want to tell anyone.
As to be expected, this is where things start to go off the rails, though I won't dare spoil the specifics. What I will say is that the movie seems to bend into itself and play with concepts of time and living memory and experience that I truly wasn't anticipating. The emotional climax it builds to is genuinely affecting, the sort of change in perspective that can alter how you remember everything that came before it.
For all the space-related grandeur the title seems to imply, this is a very emotionally-focused film, to it's strength. There is, however, a running theme about using UFOs as a metaphor for the dark or ugly or threatening things in our lives that we try to hold at bay. It does make sense, from a certain point of view, but it isn't used to much end. No matter. This is an excellent and surprising film that continues the high quality I've come to expect from a Sabu film.