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Sunday, March 21, 2010

TAKESHI KITANO

image borrowed from amazon
I bought one so it's ok
Exactly as the forecast, today it was clear then cloudy and started raining at 2. Fog came in with the rain. It's been a foggy mountaintop. Daffodils are up and about to bloom the next day the sun is out. It's one of the most beautiful days there is, wet landscape in cloud. The wet makes all the colors vivid, the yellows, tans and browns of last year's leavings, the greens of pines, and the fog gives it beautiful depth against the light gray backdrop. Last year friends here from Missouri were disappointed their day here was wet with light fog. I mentioned that the wet brightens the colors the sun bleaches and the light fog gives actually greater clarity in what you see, and a sense of distance. The evidence came up on the digital screen and a lousy gray day turned into a spectacular day in a flash. I love to walk in the woods on a foggy day. Umbrellas don't do so well in the woods, so I wait until it's not raining to go walking.




The windchimes ting lightly with the splashes of water running off the roof to the rocks below. 48 degrees. It was funny at the radio station attempting to tell the weather news Saturday morning. I had to operate Sue's laptop, which I'm not familiar with at all. She showed me how to get up the weather and scroll it. It worked. I'm reading Saturday, Sunday, Monday and I couldn't get it to scroll. It was a full arm's length away from me, because the mic was quite a ways from it. I was in there trying to keep voice near the mic and reach as far as I could reach, hold one little thing down with my thumb and scroll on the mouse pad with my finger to make it go on to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I like to go through Thursday, because it gives a pattern of weather for the next 5 days. Nobody can remember the details of each day. I certainly can't. So I find the pattern and feel like about everybody gets the pattern, like if it gets warmer every day, or if it gets rainier every day, see which way the wind blows. I like it so you don't have to be a weatherman to know.




Today I watched a netflix movie twice. BROTHERS. It was made by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano. He writes screenplays of all his films, conceives the story, plays lead character and directs them. Plus he has his own studio, Office Kitano. I've seen 5 of his films recently and find Takeshi Kitano a brilliant mind. Each one is radically different from the others except for the Kitano mind that runs through them. This one takes place in Los Angeles, both English and Japanese spoken. I used subtitles for all of it. He has what I interpret to be a post-modern twist in his films. He has funny asides from time to time. His films tend to have 4 dances in them. Not dances like conventional dancing. On one, 4 guys are making music with 4 wooden staffs banging them on the floor making intricate rhythms, while they tapdance on sandal type shoes with a flat wooden circle for a heel and one for the ball of the foot. Get a bunch of them going and the sticks hitting the wooden floor, and they can make some noise and music. Two guys banging on both sides of a big drum. It an aside, comic relief, a surprise dance.




In today's film, one of the "dances" was 4 men in suits on a beach seen from a long ways back, an inch or so high, with the ocean, horizon and sky beyond them. 2 of them were tossing a football back and forth, and 2 of them just stood around. I've found he does this 4 times in each of his films. One of the dances in today's film was half a dozen guys in suits playing basketballs indoors with a portable indoor basket, none of them players. Jumping around, tossing the ball, moving here, moving there. This would be Takeshi's humor. In a film of mostly men, yakuza, mafia, he has them dancing with balls during the dance scenes. I think of all the attempts to make a basket, it happened only once. The guys are shown as being inept at everything in their lives but shooting guns, and not so hot at that. They use the point and shoot method. Shoot enough times and you're bound to hit something.




Constant movement, all of it in relation to the ball. Fascinating when seen as a dance. Our man, Kitano's character, Older Brother, gets a cell phone call from guys in another mob telling him they have his girlfriend. Meet them at certain place and time. He shows up. 2 guys have their guns on girlfriend's head. Older Brother stands and looks at them awhile, pulls out his gun and shot all 3 of them, girlfriend included, and drove off. It wasn't like he intended to. She was collateral damage for his method of shooting: point and empty the gun.
It had the humor of the unexpected in it. Nobody in gangster movies does that. It says, this guy's a loose cannon and everybody better watch out. He was, too, and he made a mess of things before he was through. Takeshi Kitano, the artist, likes to play with the unexpected. That's him in the center of the picture above. Omar Epps is the black man. He makes a good character in every movie I've seen him in. He puts on a great solo performance driving the car at the end, leaves us laughing.
Kitano makes characters that are a little bit off the deep end, you never can guess what they might do next. Any of them. I've come to see him as something of a Woody Allen of Japan. Not that his characters are involved in psychoanalysis, but he writes them, directs them and plays the lead character in them. They're not anything like Allen's films, but he is an artist to the same degree Allen is an artist. His films are visual dynamite, the compositions of vertical and horizontal lines and color in architecture for backgrounds. Kitano has a similar eye that finds art everywhere.
In one of the crazier scenes, he and Epps kill a bodyguard of the man they're after, and lay him down in the street where it says BUMP in big white letters and two lines above them making an arrow to point to this one spot where the bump is presumably located. They put him on the street at the tip of the arrow and ran off. Every scene is a beautiful picture inside the rectangle frame. The characters are from a wide variety of personalities, each one individual in every way. And like Allen, there is unexpected humor everywhere, clever, good humor. In some of the scenes I can see Kitano off camera laughing at something the actors are doing. His sense of humor is zany and he makes the most of it. I get the impression he's a zany individual, too. His movies are never comedies, anything but, yet I always laugh inside when I think of him for all the funny pranks he pulls in a film. I had to give this one 5 stars on the netflix evaluation.


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