Observant readers, and I know that there is at least one, will have noticed that my latest selections for the Dirk Malcolm list of films since STAR WARS, have come from Japan. I have created a Takeshi Kitano triple bill in acknowledgement of his contribution to late 20th century world cinema.
He was born in 1947 and represents something of a polymath as a filmmaker, comedian, singer, actor, author, artist, film editor, screen writer who is a significant auteur director on the world stage. He is also known as ‘Beat’ Takeshi, an alter ego that he created to differentiate his lighter work from his more ‘serious’ work. He lampooned the two personas in the off-beat TAKESHIS’ (2005) which is completely bonkers, but I like to see these two characters as something like Graham Greene’s device of naming some of his novels as ‘Entertainments’, so that he is given license to “do something a little different.”
Other directors such as Oshima and Fukasaku have appreciated his understated qualities as an actor, while in his own films he tends to be more of a dormant firebrand, likely to burst into action at any given moment. I believe that this mercurial tendency makes him such a compelling presence on the screen.
MEATY, BEATY, BIG AND BOUNCY
- ZATOICHI (2003) Kitano’s revival of the Blind Samurai franchise that was popular in film and television. It is like YOJIMBO (1961) but with a tap dancing finale. What’s not to like?
- DOLLS (2002) Three sets of characters with their own stories that subtly interlink to explore Kitano’s idea that death is a relative state. It is visually stunning.
- KIKUJIRO (1999) A young boy in search of his mother creates one of my favourite road movies. It takes its inspiration from THE WIZARD OF OZ with a series of vignettes and bizarre encounter
- SONATINE (1993) The film that propelled him into an international star and the heir to Fukasaku’s crown as the Yakuza king.
5) TAKESHI’S CASTLE Chris Tarrant loved this Its A Knockabout meets Tenko gameshow that Takeshi briefly hosted before it was syndicated to every corner of the universe and infests every hour of Challenge TV. At least it keeps Craig Charles off the crack and Jazz mags.