Culture Vulture: Takeshi Kitano

takeshi kitano My first introduction to Takeshi Kitano was through Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence where he plays the Japanese guard that everyone could like. At the time I didn’t know his name and have to admit that I was watching the film for a certain Mr David Bowie. Still his acting left a definite impression and when I crossed paths with him again, so to speak, I recognised him immediately. My second introduction to him led me to one of the best film-makers in modern cinema — screw you if you don’t believe me. But seriously Hana Bi or Fireworks was an amazing film — managing to marry what might be called disparate elements into a beautiful cohesive whole. You have art, humour, violence and some of the most wonderful cinematography. It is a shame that most Western audiences will know Takeshi from his role in the awful Johnny Mnemonic. He thankfully got a second bite at the cherry in an English speaking role with the film Brother: an East meets West gangster film that manages to sidestep the cliches which can plague that genre. He was the head teacher in Battle Royale and gives a powerful performance there. He is a popular comedian in his own country, a director, an actor, and an artist: a true polymath. Every film that he is in he owns — he is something of an Eastern equivalent to Clint Eastwood’s quiet drifter that brings justic. He sometimes doesn’t say much in a film but when he does, as with when he moves and acts — the economy of his movements and speech seem to be that bit more explosive than if he had bulled around inside the roles. Zatoichi, his take on the blind samurai is a masterclass in this: it offered a fresh alternative to the wire-work heavy films House Of Flying Daggers, and Hero. There are similarities in a lot of the characters he plays but there is always some interesting quirky angle that he approaches the story telling from — some impressionistic touch that he throws into the mix. He is at once an emotional and an aesthetically savvy director; whilst as an actor he calls to mind the aforementioned Eastwood and sometimes Lee Marvin. Go hunt down his films: watch the quiet centre explode with colour and violence. —————- Now playing: The Mission – To love and to kill with the very same hand via FoxyTunes

2 Replies to “Culture Vulture: Takeshi Kitano”

  1. My introduction to him was as one of the hosts of “MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” but I didn’t really notice him as an actor until “Battle Royale.” My love of this film led to “Brother” which I still can only play on my laptop…funny regions. I’ll definitely be checking out Zatoichi soon. Thanks for the heads up.

    Scott
    He Shot Cyrus

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