Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Takeshi Kitano's 15th film to return to familiar territory?

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 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?


Lookf4r said...

I didn't hate Achilles and the tortoise but I think It might be good for Kitano to get back into familiar territory. It will be interesting to see how he handles a new yakuza film because it seems like he isnt in remotely the same point in his life as when he made hanabi/sonatine.

Dave said...

I know he didn't direct it, but I did like Kitano in Blood and Bones, so he at least acted well in something in the last few years. He always had a fresh take on the yakuza genre, so I don't think it will feel like a retread.

He did say in an interview that his next film would be a yakuza film because his last two films weren't successful financially or critically. Thats the risk you take when you make an indulgent, personal film; sometimes no one will truly feel it like you.

Lookf4r said...

Didnt he say before that he was doing a jidaigeki?

Bob Turnbull said...

Oh Chris, Chris, Chris...Have you learned nothing from me? Have I not tried to teach you the error of your ways when it comes to "Achilles And The Tortoise"? B-)

Having said that and having liked the entire trilogy of personal films (well, "Glory To The Filmmaker" got a bit tiring in its second half), I do look forward to seeing what he does with a more conventional storyline. It will be interesting to see what he does stylistically with it though - will he bring in the surreal touches, retain some of the quick violence from earlier films, continue with adding humour, etc.).

Chris MaGee said...

Yes, there was a rumour that he was doing a jidaigeki, but now it looks like it's yakuza all the way. Also, with the speed with which he normally works we might see this by the end of the year.

Sorry, Bob. Don't hate me too much :)