by Chris MaGee
Okay, I'll just say this out loud and get it out of the way: I hated Takeshi Kitano's "Achilles and the Tortoise". Not just disliked it, but hated it. My reaction really threw me because as many of you know I'm a big Takeshi Kitano fan, but when the lights came at the end of the Toronto International Film Festival screening last September my general reaction was, "What a piece of..." For me the film didn't know what it wanted to be - comedy, drama, social criticism, allegory. Of course a great film can have all those things, but "Achilles and the Tortoise" was, for me, a truly uncomfortable mix.
Why do I bring this up now? Because Don Brown at Ryuganji.net has posted a translation of an article from the Japanese-language pop culture website Cyzo about Kitano's upcoming feature film. There's no title yet, and technically no official confirmations, but the article is heavily insinuating that Kitano's 15th film will go back to familiar ground and be about the yakuza. Apparently the unnamed film is set to begin shooting in Kobe, stronghold of Japan's biggest yakuza clan, the Yamaguchi-gumi, this August with Kitano not just behind the camera but heading up the cast which is rumoured to also include Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, and Tomokazu Miura.
Normally I would see this as a regressive step for Kitano, an easy grab for success back to his early films like "Sonatine" and "Boiling Point" (above), but after the dismal failure that was "Achilles and the Tortoise" I find myself actually looking forward to a straight ahead gangster film by a filmmaker who helped define the genre. of course we'll be following the story as it develops, but for now have you say in the comments: Are you happy about Kitano potentially returning to his roots with a yakuza film?