Please, guys, don’t be angry with me, but I honestly feel this trailer deserves a post of its own.
I remember very well the first time I saw a Takeshi Kitano movie. I was walking through, I believe, the Ikebukuro section of Tokyo with my then-wife Yumiko. (I can picture the train station and the buildings around it, and I’m pretty sure it was that section, but time is…to say the least…rough on memory.)
We walked past a movie theater and I saw a poster with three men, Kitano in front and this wacky font saying BROTHER in English. I was instantly intrigued and I turned to my wife and said: ”Hey…isn’t that that guy who…” She somehow always knew what I was going to ask and she glanced at the poster and said: “Yup.”
The man on the poster was a famous Japanese comedian named ‘Beat’ Takeshi. What was he doing in a poster for what, by all appearances, was a gangster film? Or at the least a very serious poster for Men In Suits Standing in a Field?
We eventually saw the movie, but what unspooled was not what I had expected, to say the least. This movie was set in LA?! Wait, Omar Epps was in it?! My wife wasn’t excited…I was crestfallen.
After the movie, our post-viewing conversation turned from exactly who Omar Epps was to a spirited discussion of the tv show we often saw, with people getting kicked in the balls and slipping on banana peels and strapping helmets to their heads as young Japanese women peed on them…(that last one may be an exaggeration, but that show was straaaanngge.) And after every piece of the show, ‘Beat’ Takeshi and his buddy would speak in clipped sentences and hit each other and laugh. Was this really that guy? I had to learn more.
I went and found all the films I could, starting with Hana-bi and moving to
Kids Return, the beginning of which still sticks with me, riding the bike, the cement wall, the languid fluidity…to Violent Cop and Sonatine. I was amazed this dude could pull this off. It was like if London Boots went out and decided they wanted to make a movie about the sociological implications of a young gay couple who decide they want to take over their local bosozoku gang. It just wouldn’t seem cogent and everyone would say it wouldn’t work.
But here was ‘Beat’ Takeshi. And after Kids Return, I could do no more than shake my head in wonder at what the ‘comedian’ had achieved. Really, it was as if Clint Eastwood, instead of starring in westerns and making awesome films, had Reagan’s career with monkeys and then made Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. It’s that strong a dichotomy.
So here we are now, in 2010, and I have seen the best trailer of the year, of quite a long time. My Japanese isn’t what it was, and they’re talking way too fast for me to get it all. But it’s beautiful, and it’s something I can’t wait to see. Kitano, along with Kiarostami and Akin, is one of the greatest filmmakers who use the silence between the action to paint a movie before us, and we are all the richer for it. For Kitano, the silence leads to violence and the two are never that far apart. Can’t wait.