Thursday, March 24, 2011


Takeshi Kitano's latest, which was the closing film for the Japan Society film series; "Hardest Men In Town: Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence", was a return to his unique take on the yakuza genre that most people know him for. A strange mixture of over the top violence, existentialism and dead-pan delivery reminiscent of Bresson. 'Outrage' is getting a lot of mixed reviews on places like rotten tomatoes and, but take it from me; this movie is GREAT. For those of you who love Kitano's work like 'Sonatine', i can almost guarantee you will love this. While watching this movie, at any given point you will; die laughing, look away in disgust (see picture), or contemplate the life of the lead character. Rarely while watching a movie in a packed audience did i feel so much synchronicity with a group of people i would normally dislike had i not been in the same movie theater with them and enjoying the same thing.
'Outrage' is a movie about double, triple and quadruple crossing within a few closely knit Yakuza Families, and one man's ultimate rise to power by playing everyone against themselves. In fact, I'd say the films only 2 issues were the complexity of all the back stabbing (they seem to happen every 15 minutes or so) and the fact that it can be difficult to follow who is with what Yakuza clan at certain points in the film. Those elements didn't really bother me, but i can totally see how those aspects of the film would annoy people.
Takeshi Kitano also stars in the lead role as "Otomo", an under boss who gets caught up in the convoluted back stabbing and turf wars. At certain points in the film, it almost feels like Kitano is poking fun at the Japanese gangster genre. I think he knows that scenes of loud, overly dramatic acting Japanese men yelling at each other in a small room for 5 minutes at a time is kinda funny and that's why there's plenty of that in the movie. Something that also might get overlooked in the movie is Kitano's performance. Takeshi Kitano may have one of the all time greatest faces in cinema. He has one of the best expressionless faces. And this has always been the case, long before his reconstructive facial surgery. When he yells, smiles, laughs, whatever, theres still a bit of apathy and boredom in his face that always makes you crack up more than usual. Given Jim Jarmusch's fascination (at times) with Japanese culture, I'm surprised that he and Kitano have never collaborated on a film before. And honestly, these days, I would much rather Kitano act in a Jarmusch film instead of a Tarrantino film, who's notorious for his fascination with asian culture.
The existential nature of the film i mentioned earlier has to do with Otomo's seemingly growing apathy for the yakuza lifestyle. He seems to be sick and tired of the finger chopping, turf wars and other things that come with the life of being a Japanese gangster. One scene in the film does a great job a highlighting this. In the middle of a heated debate with a rival Yakuza boss, he just starts laugh arrogantly, as if to say "i honestly don't give a shit what we're arguing about" (a short moment of this scene is in the trailer below).The soundtrack to this film is done really well too. Very synth-heavy and moody. And as i stated in a facebook post last week, the drill scene in 'Marathon Man' has taken 2nd place thanks to this movie (once again...look at the picture above). Anyone who's a fan of Jarmusch, Tarrantino or Takeshi's previous gangster films will love this movie.
Since this movie played at Cannes, NYFF and other important film festivals last year, I'm almost certain that this will get some kind of a short release in nyc (most likely Walter Reade or BAM).
And on another note, I'd also like to stress that if there was ever time to Join a theater, NOW is the time. Through the summer, if you join Japan Society, half the proceeds of your membership go to the earthquake victims in Japan. And whats a little more unique in joining Japan Society over places like Anthology or IFC (not taking anything way from those theaters, because I'm a member at both places), is that Japan Society is more than just a movie theater. They have art exhibitions, lectures and plays as well.
Japan Society Membership Info
And if you haven't seen Sonatine, i HIGHLY recommend it. Its a great movie, with many of the same elements of Outrage; violence, humor, hypnotic music and existentialism. (sorry i couldn't find a good English trailer, but whatever, you'll get the gist of the movie). This movie is part a 2-disc special edition dvd with the Zatochi remake (also starring and directed by Kitano).


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