Campaigns for and Against
By Spencer Parsons,
11:18AM, Sun. Mar. 11, 2007
So my Saturday started with another scolding from David Hartstein because I missed the Friday midnight screening of Mulberry Street, during which he had texted messages like “RATS!” “RATS!!!” and “MULBERRY STREET, MOTHERF***ER!!!” to let me know the self-imposed ruination of my Festival experience had begun in earnest. He tells me little more than he had in his text messages except that the DV camera work was the most exciting he’d seen since 28 Days Later. Dude knows how to sell me on a movie, so I’ll definitely be there for Mulberry Monday or Saturday night. So, when he tells me I’ve got to see Kazuhiro Soda's Campaign, I take his advice, and it does not disappoint.
About as far from Mulberry Street as I can imagine without having seen its vermin horror myself, Campaign is a patient and funny portrait of one man’s efforts to win a vacant seat on the Kawasaki City Council. The videography achieves a rare level of formal perfection in its observation of an endearingly imperfect candidate grappling with a political culture that appears to be all form. It’s an approach that won’t be to everyone’s taste, and there’s no question that it’s ultimately a little too patient and could do with some judicious trims, but I can’t complain much when there are so many images and scenes I’ll never forget: subway passengers literally being stuffed into an overcrowded train, an unruly assembly of kindergarteners poking at each other while our candidate blathers about tuition rates, or campaign workers narrating the activities of a never-seen psychotic across the street as distraction from preparing flyers for a mass mailing.
In other news of campaigns, John Pierson reports with a mixture of relief and disappointment that the one against his support of Manufacturing Dissent produced no great incident at the premiere. I tell him, “Don’t worry. I decided to see it later this week because the scuttlebutt is that’s when we’ll get the real fireworks.” I’m not sure if he found it funny.