Directed by Shinji Sômai
1983, 118 minutes
An exuberant farce tinted with deep shades of melancholy and real violence, P.P. Rider is an ode to the dreams of youth against authority. The film centers on three teens on a burlesque odyssey to rescue their kidnapped class bully from a gang of yakuza. En route they run afoul of some cops, befriend a motley former gangster, and experience the first seismic shocks of growing up, among other episodes. More immediately, the youngsters climb on things and jostle and fall down and sing and take up space, forever in motion. What carries them along is less the search for their classmate than the sheer momentum of being young and alive. Meanwhile, director Shinji Somai constantly invents astonishing new ways to capture their movements, including a mythic opening shot, which—according to legend—required the use of three cranes. Adapted from a comic strip-like scenario by Leonard and Chieko Schrader, it’s a film of unparalleled freedom, and a testament to Somai’s ability to inject his work with the potent marrow of life.
Subjects & Collections
"My first experience of Shinji Somai’s films presented another distance. It was the distance between the actors and the camera, as I can clearly see now. [P.P. Rider] made me perceive for the first time the presence of the camera in a film."
- Ryusuke Hamaguchi
"Shinji Somai’s first masterpiece."
- Shigehiko Hasumi, Film Comment
"The apogee of Shinji Somai’s style."
- Bingham Bryant, The Brooklyn Rail
"The story follows summertime abandon to the extreme… Plot conventionality is sacrificed for pure, unadulterated feeling, and Shinji Somai is well aware that younger generations are best equipped to embody such uninhibitedness."
- Patrick Preziosi, MUBI Notebook
TYPHOON CLUB (4k restoration)
Winner of the Grand Prix at the first Tokyo International Film Festival in 1985, Typhoon Club is widely regarded as the seminal film of director Shinji Somai’s career. A work of raw, elemental power, it follows an ensemble of junior high students in a provincial town, beset by a summer-y malaise as a typhoon looms. The 10th best Japanese film of all time, according to Japan’s Kinema Junpo poll.