Posts Tagged ‘Takashi Miike’

Koroshiya Ichi 1 (Ichi The Killer): This isn’t kitschy like normal people who pretend to like abnormal cinema might want you to believe. Even Takashi Miike asking for barf bags to be distributed at the theatre during the film’s release doesn’t make it tacky fodder for erstwhile gorehounds. Based on the original Manga series created by Hideo Yamamoto, (he’s also the cinematographer here) the film spits and cusses out a tale about two killers who respond only to pain, but in very different ways.

On one side, we have Kakihara – Yakuza’s kamikaze rogue and sado-masochist extraordinaire. He’s a practitioner of extreme physical pain, both self-inflicted and on anyone who wrongs him/spills his coffee/call his mother a whore. On the other side, we have Ichi, a man child whose past trauma has imbibed in him such a repulsion towards pain that it drives him to destroy every single fucking thing in the most brutal, unimaginable ways on his path to serenity and quiet masturbation. These two remind me of Batman and Joker in the sense that pain motivates them more than anything else does. Kakihara feeds off it to feel alive while Ichi begrudgingly needs it to live another day; their inclination towards it however is similarly perfunctory. Of course, my minions, there is a showdown and yes, it is gorgeous in a ‘hey, are those black swans with broken necks dancing in a pool of their own blood?’ way.

Actors – Tadanobu Asano, Suzuki Matsuo (the rogue detective) and Susumu Terajima (Funaki gang) – brilliantly play off their nonchalance towards bloodshed. This was almost necessary considering the film’s excessive misogynistic overtones. It could have so easily degenerated into an Asian art-house splatter fest, but the actors put on such a good show that we expect some of the scenes to be inexplicably more graphic than they actually are. Matsuo is especially great and sometimes scarier than the other two. He doesn’t treat violence as a luxury or deviancy, but as chore and that makes him more dangerous because he never has an off day. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nao Omori as Ichi though. He could have easily slipped into a less menacing suit and walked right into a buddy comedy with Jet Li. The rest blends in nicely with the overall decadence, be it through sound, sight or a tiny scream. The most memorable gore sequence was the one with the badass yakitori skewers and a pissed-off Kakihara. Poor Mr. Suzuki. Poor poor fellow.

From the deliriously intoxicating music that Karera Musication and Boredoms whip up in the shape of unearthly jazz and muddy psychedelia to the Yamamoto’s hideously chic visuals, Takashi Miike has given us plenty to chew on here. If Ôdishon (Audition) was his most stylish and visceral work as an artist and Visitor Q his most outrageously vivid, Koroshiya Ichi 1 falls somewhere in-between, gazing at our innermost perversions with lovingly bloodied eyes. Somewhere in there, love lurks amongst the shadows like that bald dude playing Satan in Passion Of Christ. You won’t feel it unless you look past the obvious. You can’t deny it because the type of porn you have downloaded over the years has a different story to say.

I am kidding. I’m sure you’re respectably normal…but that transsexual midget porn sure is a kick in the head, eh?

Gurotesuku (Grotesque): Kôji Shiraishi’s Gurotesuku is sort of like a nasty accident on the highway. You don’t want to look, but you do anyway. You tell the person sitting next to you, “oh man I wish everyone’s ok” but your sick mind is secretly wondering “Is that a piece of brain? Please tell me it’s a piece of brain. Oh how I wish that was a piece of brain”.

I wrote a paragraph on how grotesquely pointless this film was before realizing that maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to stylized Asian slasher films. The strike of vengeance by an underground director who’s frankly sick of all the pansy-excuses for gore that his emotionally crippled peers have put out over the past decade. I can picture Kôji Shiraishi downing his eleventh shot of Saki, wiping the spittle from his pornographic moustache and preaching to his choir of obese geishas and Yoshihiro Nishimura’s illegitimate children, “blutality for blutality’s sake, there isn’t any other way, my childlen”.

Of course, the truth could so easily be that Shiraishi was in fact secretly and simultaneously fathered and mothered by Jerry Springer and Ilsa – the evil Nazi warden. We’ll never know, I guess. One thing I do know is that the film has one of the nastiest and most predictable twists I’ve seen. It’s just wrong on two or three levels at least. Thankfully, the all-round shitty acting pushes it into a surrealist territory where the bad is good and the horrible can be terribly entertaining. It’s also cute that Hiroaki Kawatsure and Shigeo Ôsako try their bestest in the whole wide world to go beyond the clichés and allure us in with method shrieking/wailing/pleading, but it works as well as the dumbasses standing near the literature sections at our local bookstores with misleading ‘I Can Help You’ badges. Ôsako’s final speech to her captor is comical to the point that it comes across as being weirdly existentialistic. I half expected Peter Sellers to drift along and whack her in the head with a hardbound copy of Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There.

Kawatsure is convincing as the sadistic killer, but then again, very few people aren’t. No, really. Pick anyone you know. I bet most of them would fit the profile of a deranged sociopath. We’re all pretty fucked up when nobody’s looking anyway.


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He Was A Quiet Man

Frank Cappello’s He Was A Quiet Man is an odd film, in which a disoriented, self-defecating office worker plans on gaining notoriety but ends up being inadvertently heroic. Christian Slater plays (and brilliantly too) Bob Maconel, a man on a mission to validate his own meaningless existence. He is Jack without Tyler Durden to iron out the existential laundry or more fittingly, a deranged Dilbert without Catbert by his side. Quite simply put, a working-class man, someone who hates his job and his co-workers, even more. In such times pf desperation, he vows vengeance on all those who have treated him unfairly. Back at office, after being on the business end of yet another barrage of verbal insults from his over-breaking colleague, he calmly looks down, pulls out a revolver and envisions a blood-splattered spree of violence and mayhem. No wait, a bullet slips through his fingers and rolls on the carpet…and as he gets on the ground to pick it up, loud shots are fired as bodies fall to the ground amidst screams and cries. Apparently, Mr Bob wasn’t the only one on the verge of self-destruction at office… has also been slowly “going postal”. And in a fit of irony, Bob saves the day and gets promoted to VP of Creative Thinking. Throw in a quadriplegic love interest (a very pretty Elisha Cuthbert), a dislikable boss (William H Macy) and Jeff Beal’s cautionary background score and what you essentially have is a darkly comic devoid of a sense of justice. Riveting stuff.

George Washington

Director David Gordon Green must have thought of this film on a Sunday afternoon. There is a something so lackadaisical about the whole affair that the director’s intention to slow roast the proceedings over a thin flame soon becomes obvious to the audience. That’s not to say that George Washington doesn’t lend itself to austerity. No no no…in essence, the storyline is quite urgent but thankfully (yes, thankfully) we don’t feel the urgency. I guess that’s a testament to the cinematic languor that breathes heavily in every scene of this film. Without further adieu, let me to offer a glimpse into the story. A group of children (inter-racial) from a sleepy Deep South town are forced to face the consequences of actions when one of them is accidentally killed. There’s also twelve-year-old Nasia (Candace Evanofski) who harbors a strange sort of love for George (Donald Holden), a kid whose skull never hardened after birth. And that’s all you need to know. One could even mistake this for a Spike Lee flick, if it weren’t for one glaring difference…the kids don’t distinguish between black and white, only good and evil.

Blue Velvet

One thing’s for sure…I can never look at Dennis Hopper the same way again. In Blue Velvet, he exhibits the kind of sociopathic dementia that would otherwise be reserved for a Takashi Miike film. Yet it’s one of the many things that make Blue Velvet a brilliant, voyeuristic study of film noir and surrealism. For the first ten minutes, we are force-fed the notion that Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) is a normal man, just as perturbed by tragedies like anyone else. The movie picks up pace when he finds a severed ear in a vacant lot and through amateurish snooping he eventually comes into contact with a nightclub singer Dorothy (flawlessly played by Isabella Rossellini). From then on, you (along with Jeffery) get to witness Frank (Dennis Hopper), a violent sociopath inflict sadistic sexual perversities on the hapless singer. It’s evident these increasingly perverse favours collectively constitute to some sort of a ransom that is being imposed upon Dorothy. Why and what, I will let you figure out while watching the movie. You probably won’t enjoy if you don’t have the stomach for violence or if you simply don’t wish to see Dennis Hopper getting his jollies through erotic asphyxiation. But if you are an avid admirer of David Lynch (I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be), get this film and give it a spin. Your dysfunctional mind will thank me later for it.

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