Friday, September 07, 2007

Glory to the Filmmaker!

Glory to the Filmmaker! is the latest work from the mind of Takeshi Kitano. Featuring a slightly fictionalized version of himself, the film follows Kitano in a search for his next big hit, following his public declaration that he would stop doing Yakuza movies. In a wild and funny journey, Kitano takes us through his failed, aborted, and commercially unsuccessful attempts, featuring a number of co-stars from his past movies. The journey spans every genre imaginable, from a quiet, introspective story of a just-retired salaryman (reminiscent of the works of Ozu), to a ninja action film, to multiple relationship stories, to a film set in the 50's recalling the hardship and depression of post-war Japan, before finally settling on an offbeat sci-fi flick.

That film is ostensibly about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, but soon diverts to a story about mother-daughter con artists who are trying to scam Kitano's character, an aide to an eccentric rich man who funds all sorts of oddball causes. All the while, Kitano is constantly changing into a life-sized doll version of himself. And if none of that makes any sense, then you've pretty much captured the feeling of watching that part of the movie.

Kitano was not present at the screening, but he (or rather, his doll surrogate) taped an interview for the festival that preceded the film, which pretty much set the tone for what was to follow. The film is about as self-referential as his last work screened at the festival, Takeshis'. The first half of the movie was surprisingly accessible and hilarious, but the second was as impenetrable, surreal, and self-mocking as you'd come to expect of Kitano's later work. Not that that is a bad thing, but don't come into it expecting anything resembling a straightforward narrative. If you're a fan of Kitano's work and his fertile imagination, then you'll enjoy the film, but I imagine many others will be lost in the last half of the picture.

After this, I'm looking forward to his segment in Chaucun son cinema, which I'm seeing later in the festival.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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