daisy--molina said: Sorry, I may have cheated in writing this ask, since I found no "Ask" button. Just wanted to say that I like your writing, particularly for its mix subjects of Japanese films, writing about writing, writing about film making, and that Bukowski poem. I am writer, too, who naturally loves film. Horror is my favorite. Miike's Audition did not unsettle you?
Hi, thank you for that message. I’m hardly a writer, I do think I write okay screenplays, but this blog here is merely a way of keeping track of the films I see and some of my own thoughts. But I’m glad you found it interesting. I remember it being very unsettling the first time I watched Audition. I think from the moment that sack moved, my heart never stopped pounding. I don’t share your love for the horror genre, so it was a rare sensation for me :)
After being a Coen Brothers fan for well over a decade, I finally felt it was the right time to watch one of their most acclaimed films - Barton Fink. The 1991 film made an unprecedented and never repeated sweep at the Cannes Film Festival, taking home the Palm d’Or, Best Director and Best Actor awards.
It was the first official day of restarting work on my feature film script PROPERLY, and I had trouble getting into the zone. For whatever reason, the image of Barton Fink came to mind. Years ago, I had actually read the entire screenplay of the film, but I was too young, and didn’t retain a whole lot of it. I just remembered this image of the struggling writer looking up at the ceiling of his hotel room, unable to conjure up a single idea. With that image in mind, I decided it was time.
The film left a very deep impression on me. For two whole days, I couldn’t get it out of my head. What did it all mean? The picture of the girl by the beach especially kept displaying on my mind. After doing some reading and drawing my own mind map, I finally came up with an analysis of the film that I can make peace with. The Coens are truly brilliant filmmakers. They made a seemingly thinly-plotted atmospheric film that is in fact laden with effective sound design and haunting subtexts that when deciphered, one cannot help but to applaud the brothers’ true ingenuity. I want to make films like they do.
So the storm today delayed the screening of 13 Assassinswith a special presentation talk by Takashi Miike himself. Luckily, the event has been moved to the end of the month when I’m also free, so no biggie.
At the 2010 Cannes press conference for Outrage, Takeshi Kitano made a sly comment saying “I think Miike-san makes too many movies”, a comment I have to agree with. Miike is one of the most prolific directors in the history of cinema. When you’re churning out an average of 5 films a year, its inevitable that the quality of those films will suffer. And because of this, Miike has been known as a hit or miss filmmaker. However, out of his heap of mess, you can pick out a handful of genuinely great films to confirm that he actually has some skills. For me, Audition was his absolute masterpiece, a film that skillfully toys with the audience’s expectation. The film remained in my mind long after it finished. After watching it for the first time 7 or 8 years ago, I revisited the film yesterday. Somehow, the “crazy” sequence felt much longer than I remembered and the ending more ambiguous. I spend awhile thinking and reading about it, my mind is now finally at ease again. It remains my favourite film by him. If I never saw Audition, I wouldn’ve given up all hope on him long ago.
In recent years however, Miike has somewhat reinvented himself. His output decreased to only 1 or 2 a year and many of them being selected at prestigious film festivals around the world. He also started collaborating with renowned artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ebizo and Koji Yakusho. Did Miike finally after having directed over 90 productions of various formats decide to make quality (not necessarily good) films for a change? I’m not too sure. But if it’s true, then world cinema has something to rejoice about.
Afraid that I wouldn’t able to the understand the film without English subtitles, I decided to watch 13 Assassins once with subtitles prior to the screening. After all, my main purpose in attending is to meet Miike himself. I’m glad to say, the film was quite brilliant. It got a lot of press for it’s bloody second hour, but I personally loved the first hour. The building up of the hatred for the shogun’s brother and the assembling of the samurais played out with such brooding intensity. The scene of the limbless girl was especially powerful. For me, the battle that came later was still great, but it was merely the Tabasco on the burger.
After 2 great films from Miike, I’m almost tempted to fit one more in before the screening in 3 weeks time. I wonder what that should be…