Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
In actor-writer-director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano’s gangster films, life is a game, but it’s one that everybody loses. His 1993 Sonatine is characteristic: A group of Tokyo yakuza, led by Kitano’s Murakawa, goes to Okinawa to negotiate a truce between rival clans. Met by gunfire, the Tokyo mobsters retreat to a beachfront hideout where they play games and practical jokes to pass the time. “Isn’t it too childish?” asks one of Murakawa’s lieutenants, but you can be sure that the playful idyll will be followed by a bloodbath. Despite Quentin Tarantino’s patronage, Sonatine never got a D.C. commercial booking, and it’s easy to see why. Kitano’s austere beauty would seem alien to American action-movie fans, and those who might appreciate the director’s elegant compositions and deliberate pacing are unlikely to share his taste for slapstick brutality. Taken on its own terms, though, this blood-soaked sonata is extraordinary. The film screens at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)