This Film is Just the Massacre of an Assassinator
September 22, 2004 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Agitator. Blood doesn't politely trickle in Takashi Miike's films: it gushes out in (warning: NSFW, graphic) improbable fountains, painting walls and filling up small cars. His trademark point-of-view shots are taken from places other directors wouldn't dream of: the bottom of a dirty toilet bowl (as a man falls into it after being killed); within the ear canal (as it is pierced by a metal spike); even from inside a character's vagina. He has depicted incest, drug abuse, teenage prostitution, violence against women and children and small dogs, and necrophilia -- and that was just in one film, Visitor Q, his take on Pasolini's Teorema. Miike has just introduced his latest movie, Izo, at the Venice Film Festival (.pdf file). Miike is less sure about why Americans are now embracing Japanese horror films. His country's horror genre is influenced by "kwaidan," traditional Japanese ghost stories that feature revenge and malice: "The stories always have the 'hatedness.' You always bring the feelings of hate [that] you don't see in American cinema". What freaks him out the most, however, is the everyday automobile accident. "Even in a film, I can't bear to watch it -- it's so much (about) how people are weak, to be just crushed with a car. It makes me feel really depressed".
posted by matteo (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Miike has, of course, also directed a musical comedy.
posted by matteo at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2004

Gah! It's the Audition guy!
*runs away, refuses to go on a blind date ever again*
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:47 PM on September 22, 2004

Bizita Q was VERY FUCKED UP, but it was strangely watchable. I haven't seen any of the others, but might seek them out, just based on this post. Thanks, Matteo.

Not to derail, but a Japanese film that still haunts me to this day is Hideo Nakata's Ringu. One of the creepiest (and completely non-gory) films I have ever seen, it still gives me the occasional nightmare some 5 years later. The American remake of it was decent enough (which had a special connection for me as some scenes in it were set in the apartment complex I used to live in in Seattle), but I highly recommend the original.
posted by psmealey at 1:59 PM on September 22, 2004

Matteo, you might enjoy these old articles.

I've never been a huge fan of his films. Something about them just rubs me the wrong way. Of course, I've always watch them in spite of this. Nice post, matteo!
posted by shoepal at 2:07 PM on September 22, 2004

I enjoyed Visitor Q. Well, maybe enjoyed isn't the right term.. however it was quite the viewing experience, and I was certainly never bored watching it. (It reminded me of some of the more bizarre Andy Warhol movies.) I was let down by Audition, though. I think so many people over the last few years have said to me, "Oh, man! The ending! Amazing! You'll freak out!" that I was actually expecting more than what I got. Not that it wasn't a striking ending, but I had been warned so many times that I guess I expected too much.

Not to join your derail, psmealey, but I'm wondering if I should bother tracking down a copy of "Ju-On" before the American remake comes out. I've heard mixed reviews of the original though...
posted by jess at 2:23 PM on September 22, 2004

mmhhh...guess I should watch the movies before preemptive judging ..but ok just once : sounds like one controversy generatin attention seeking addict.
posted by elpapacito at 2:33 PM on September 22, 2004

I've never really sought out gore in film, but I've never had a hard time watching it either. Ichi the Killer was such an over the top bloodbath that it was pretty easy to handle the visuals. Audition was absolutely cringe-inducing. The final torture scene, where the woman cuts off the man's foot with that wire saw was nauseating. Miike didn't even show the actual severing of the foot, just the woman from the chest up with her hands moving up and down operating the saw.... Still hard to think about it...
posted by crank at 2:33 PM on September 22, 2004

I just saw Miike's Zebraman (my capsule review) at the Toronto International Film Festival. IT'S A KIDS MOVIE!!! (But, none the less, really good and twisted).
posted by Capn at 2:35 PM on September 22, 2004

Just saw Gozu, which I guess is his latest. Completely random. Made me realize that he doesn't so much care about plot. More of an artistic snuff film with some random non-violent stuff thrown in as filler.
posted by destro at 2:47 PM on September 22, 2004

Gozu is at least a year old, saw it at last years TIFF. Brother has directed more than 50 movies since 1991. That's like 4 a year!
posted by Capn at 3:04 PM on September 22, 2004

If someone hated the American remake of Ringu, thought it was silly and boring, should this someone even bother to check out the original?
posted by xmutex at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2004

ah audition is so weird.

the bit with the wire saw, sounds like she's saying "kitty kitty kitty" (deeper, deeper, deeper in japanese)... i have to say it was a very confusing, disturbing film.

xmutex: that someone would probably think that ringu was silly and boring, as it's effectively the same story. however, maybe that someone should try watching it sometime if they get the chance, and let them decide for themselves.
posted by knapah at 3:21 PM on September 22, 2004

Jess: In my opinion, Ju On (aka The Grudge) is well worth tracking down. I saw it at last year's TIFF and it was very effective, at least in the cinema. Make sure you turn up the sound.
Apparently, Sam Raimi called it the scariest movie he's seen.

And, I loved Audition (well, in the sense that I found it utterly horrifying). I knew nothing about it before I saw it and it turned out to be a very different experience from what I expected.

Xmutex, my guess is, probably not. They are very similar films. On the other hand, I find that I am more accepting of silliness and other flaws in foreign-language films than I am for hollywood films.
posted by Zetetics at 3:26 PM on September 22, 2004

I have not and probably will not seen any of the gore-fests Miike is best known for, but I did see The Happiness Of The Katakuris, and loved it. It just made me happy, as only a Japanese musical comedy horror can.
posted by delapohl at 4:15 PM on September 22, 2004

Yay, a Miike post!

Speaking of Gozu, am I the only one who was heavily reminded of Barton Fink? And Full Metal Yakuza ("Part man. Part machine. All Yakuza!") reminded me of Toxic Avenger meets Robocop.

Miike's films are often rather slow, low-budget, and to be perfectly honest dull, but they always have interesting bits.
posted by neckro23 at 4:33 PM on September 22, 2004

I actually found the American The Ring substantially better than the original Ringu.

Ringu had waaaaaaaaaay too much explanation, with character exchanges like this:
(1) So if we [foo], [bar] will happen?
(2) Yes. [bar] will happen if we [foo] in time.
(1) So we agree that by [foo]ing, we will bring about [bar]?
(2) Only if by that you mean that [bar] will be the result of us doing [foo].
(1) I see. Let us [foo], then, so that we might achieve [bar].
(2) Yes. We will commit [foo], for the purpose of [bar].

The Ring, at least, didn't do that, which made it more mysterious and spookular.

Query: is that sort of repeated explanation of what they're doing and why some manner of standard thing in Japanese storytelling / filmmaking?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:15 PM on September 22, 2004

I love this guy. There is just nothing in American horror cinema comparable to what he does. So amazingly violent and twisted, and yet I spend almost the whole film laughing. Anyone unfamiliar with his work should be sure to watch the "right" films first instead of just picking something at random. He makes so much stuff, and a lot of it is just rushed and incoherent. Not everything is a classic. Ichi the Killer is a good place to start.
posted by Voivod at 5:25 PM on September 22, 2004

Miike rocks.

I talked about him a bit here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:28 PM on September 22, 2004

Just saw Gozu, which I guess is his latest. Completely random.

Far from it, in my humble. Or random in the same sense that best of David Lynch's work is, which is to say : not at all, at a (possibly) nonverbal level.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:30 PM on September 22, 2004

Anyone unfamiliar with his work should be sure to watch the "right" films first instead of just picking something at random. He makes so much stuff, and a lot of it is just rushed and incoherent.

rushed and incoherent is a large part of what i like about miike.

there's a charm to the way he plays fast and loose with storytelling as if he's just making the story up as he goes along.
posted by juv3nal at 9:58 PM on September 22, 2004

Everything you think you know about Miike is probably wrong. Start with "Bird People in China" and "Blues Harp" if you don't believe me.
posted by Eamon at 10:09 PM on September 22, 2004

I'd recommend Audition, I found it a very satisfying and reasonably coherent film. And I thought the unseen thing in the hessian bag was the most horrifying part of the movie, not the final scenes.
posted by Onanist at 11:06 PM on September 22, 2004

matteo... great post...

i'd recommend starting with 'fudoh'... its not his most gruesome but the story is mostly coherent and is a quite twisted yakuza revenge teen drama number with the best sex scene ever involving an incredibly cute hermaphrodite school girl/boy and her teacher. not to mention the nine yr old assasins, the vaginal poison darts...the minimal dialogue...

for some reason, its my fave miike film, even though all the others get much more attention.
posted by pandaharma at 2:57 AM on September 23, 2004

more Miike stuff here
posted by matteo at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2004

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