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.