Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Beat Takeshi versus Kitano Takeshi
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 12/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have watched Kitano Takeshi's 2005 film Takeshis' twice over the last two days and have recently read a chapter about the film in Aaron Gerow's recent book about the director/actor and his films, I am having a hard time pegging exactly what kind of film Takeshis' is. Unlike many of his films such as Violent Cop, Boiling Point, and Brother that can easily be put in the yakuza genre and Kikujiro, A Scene at the Sea, and Kids Return that can, possibly, be put in a humanist genre, Takeshis' belongs more in an "other" genre with films like Getting Any? and Dolls which are considered Kitano's more artistic films for vastly different reasons.
Takeshis' opens with Takeshi playing mahjong with a group of yakuza while watching one of his own films. Apparently poor at gambling, Takeshi looses to the gang boss, and then makes his way to the movie studio accompanied by his manager, the always impressive Osugi Ren, and his girlfriend/secretary, Kyono Kotomi. There, he meets Kitano, also played by Beat Takeshi, who sports the bleached blond hair that Takeshi sported in his latest film. Unlike the confident, rich, and powerful Takeshi, Kitano is a struggling actor who works at a convenience store to make ends meet. After Kitano asks for Takeshi's autograph, the film takes up Kitano's perspective and things go completely bizarre with characters making numerous appearances as different characters such as the above mentioned yakuza boss also appearing as mahjong parlor owner and a bank president. The film needs to be seen in order to appreciate the weirdness and any synopsis will fail to do it justice.
With that out of the way, Takeshis' is a film that takes up the duality of the being of Kitano Takeshi/Kitano Takeshi. Unlike in the West where he is primarily known as a director and a film actor, Kitano Takeshi first made a name for himself as a manzai comedian alongside his comic partner Kaneko Jiro and acted as the clown Beat Takeshi to Kaneko's straight man Beat Kiyoshi. Because of his quick wit and nearly vulgar way of expressing himself, Kitano changed manzai comedy in Japan and quickly became a noted comic television actor. However, in his film roles Kitano often played a villain, so when he finally was given the director's helm for Violent Cop, the easily embarrassed Beat Takeshi became a cold killer and Kitano became a bifurcated individual split into his comic, television, half Beat Takeshi and his colder film half, Kitano Takeshi. Takeshis' takes up this duality and focuses not only on the duality of Kitano, but of everyone and displays the illusions of the self and the perception of others. A complex film, Takeshis', while it might not offer the most enjoyable one, makes for a fascinating, thoughtful film viewing experience."
Too many Takeshis!
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 12/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kitano Takeshi is a complicated man. Turn on the TV in Japan, and you will probably see a silly prop-comic running around in a shemp wig and a yellow flowery dress, hitting people on the head with a giant squeaky mallet. Go to any international film festival in the US, and you will probably see a dead-eyed killer, surrounded by beautiful imagery; a genius auteur director and a subtle and effective actor. Then there are the books, the political commentary, the painting...there is practically not a single art form that Kitano has not touched upon at some time.
Now enter the fragmented world of "Takeshis". This schizophrenic surreal film is almost too bizarre to know what to make of. Originally titled "Fractals", it seems to tell the story of two Takeshis, one the famous and respected celebrity, another, also named Takeshi, who is a poor convenience store clerk trying to make his career as an actor, but is mainly noted for his stunning resemblance to his more famous counterpart. They both move in and out of a twisted story-line that includes scenes from some of Kitano's most famous films, as well as revenge fantasies and strange occurrences that leave one disorientated, never sure if this is all a dream or reality or just Kitano Takeshi getting confused in his head as to which one of his many faces is the real one. Most of the other main characters play dual roles as well, heaping confusion on confusion.
I am still not sure if this is a good film or not. It is either a giant ego-fest served up with Kitano style, or a brave experiment by an artist testing his boundaries and abilities. There are no handholds of sanity when it comes to the storyline, so one just has to stop fighting to find sense in the whole thing, and just go along for the wild ride. It definitely needs more than one viewing, although it isn't the kind of flick you necessarily want to see a second time.
The part of this movie that probably won't work for most American viewers is the "behind the scenes" portion of the Japanese celebrity scene. Much like Robert Altman's The Player, "Takeshis" parts the curtain of the industry, and lets celebrities drop their famous personas and just be regular people doing an irregular job. It is the kind of insider's view that only Kitano could have commanded, but outside of their home country most of these people aren't famous so the references and shock will be lost."