a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Trouble With Takashi Miike

In my increasingly futile attempt to see every film from Takashi “Insanely Prolific” Miike -- 5 down, 60+ since 1991 to go! -- it’s interesting to note where I began. You could start anywhere, of course, but I, like many North American residents, first discovered him in 2001 via Audition. Knowing little going in apart from claims that it was a Rohmer that turns into a Romero, I still left duped: lulled into a pleasant stupor by the first hour, discombobulated by the next half-hour, and all-out wretching during the justly infamous wtf? finale.

Compact, unsettling, and brainy -- lengthy and probably didactic discussions on whether it was a feminist work or some kind of twisted male view of feminism ensued once my movie-going companion and I saved our lunch -- it in no way prepared me for the campy musical The Happiness of the Katakuris, which hit the PFF five months later and, though this is a minority opinion, fairly annoyed the bejesus out of me. Even moreso than Audition’s climax, it hits the so-far-uninitiated like a train: so he’s messy? And why, given that he averages seven films a year, did that surprise me?

Which brings me to my quandry: I’ve been wondering if my gung-ho reaction to this year’s Izo and my mildly less so grade for last year’s Gozu simply have to do with lack of familiarity. Were I an expert, would I see through Gozu’s thrown-together exploration of a virginal yakuza taunted by all sorts of sexual peccadilloes? Would I nod in appreciation at the purported yakuza-killing pooch who gets descimated, the eternally lactating woman who sells her goods about town, the all-transvestite clientelle of a diner, the man who uses ladels as a makeshift viagra, the french-kissing minotaur, the leftfield role-reversal that introduces possible incest content, and the protracted Cronenbergian birth finale, but basically find that it’s just burning celluloid? I wonder.


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