Japanese cult director Takeshi Kitano baffled and enthralled Venice on [Friday] with the premiere of Takeshis', a surreal send-up of his eclectic career which weaves together the lives of a TV celebrity and his lookalike.
The surprise addition to a list of 19 films vying for the Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion prize is a bewildering jaunt from smoky mah-jong parlors and noodle bars to showdowns between gun-slinging yakuza gangsters. Both the TV personality, Beat Takeshi, the name he takes as an actor, and the frustrated store attendant doppelganger, Takeshi Kitano, are played by the actor-director himself.
Cinema-goers are likely to be thrown off by Kitano's multiple personas and emerge confused from what the director himself describes as a multi-layered Baumkuchen cake. But, he says with a smile, that is beside the point. I want the spectators to feel like they are in another dimension of reality. I don't want my audience to understand every detail, said Kitano, who won the Golden Lion in 1997 for his film Hana-Bi, or Fireworks.
It's like one of my characters says, 'don't think too much, it's just a film,' he told Reuters.
The film borrows heavily from Kitano's gangster characters and scenes in earlier movies, from his debut Violent Cop to Zatoichi, which won the Venice Silver Lion in 2003. But this time, the bitter comedy is stronger than his customary bursts of violence.
Kitano says he hoped to use the film to close off the type of cinema that has made the prolific artist a cult name outside Japan, where he remains best known for his TV work. It is a funeral for the genres that I explored over the past dozen movies. In a sense, it is the last of a series, he said. In Japanese, the title sounds like 'Takeshi's funeral.'
Now, the man who got his break as part of comedy duo Two Beat, says he wants to have a go at the classics. After all, cinema has been around for more than a century. There are many great masters, said Kitano. I feel like doing a very classical movie now, to challenge the giants.
Takeshis' Website now has a trailer. Looks AWESOME.