CABARET CINEMA — THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI (Takeshi Kitano, 2003)
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Friday, August 8, free with $10 K2 minimum, 9:30
Now we’re talking. Hardboiled action director and comic Takeshi Kitano takes on the Zatoichi legend that was a Japanese favorite from 1962 to 1989 (starring Shintaro Katsu), updating the story of the blind swordsman, gambler, and masseuse magnificently, adding a lot of blood while staying true to the heart of this classic tale. Beat Takeshi, the name Kitano uses as an actor, stars as the unlikely platinum blonde superhero who shuffles across the countryside battling the bad guys and rescuing damsels in distress. This is the first period film of Kitano’s career, which has included such bloodfests as Violent Cop, Brother, and Boiling Point and such moving dramas as Sonatine and Kikijuro. He has combined all the elements of his previous work to create this unforgettable masterpiece, a thrilling, beautifully shot, and wonderfully realized cinematic achievement that suffers only at the very end with a silly coda that is just way too out of place. Zatoichi is screening August 8 as part of the Rubin Museum Cabaret Cinema series “Movie Medicine: A Film Series about the Healing Factor in Cinema,” being held in conjunction with the “Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine” exhibition, and will be introduced by Stephen Globus. The series continues August 15 with John Cromwell’s Of Human Bondage, introduced by psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist Harvey Roy Greenberg, and August 22 with Shohei Imamura’s Dr. Akagi, introduced by Gregory Hosho Abels.