Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Four Miike Films Thursday 3/17 at Walter Reade Theater

Holy shit, there sure is a lot of action from Japan going on this month, both good and bad. My heart goes out to all the Japanese people, here and there, who have had to suffer through two natural disasters and now a possible nuclear meltdown. We all know you are a nation of survivors and have the support of all the world to get you through this horrific set of circumstances.

On a lighter note, between the Japan Society, Film Society at Lincoln Center, and Subway Cinema, there is a whole lot of fun going on. Fun that should keep you rabid Japanophiles busy until the end of the weekend. Thursday night the Walter Reade Theater is showing for, count them four, movies from the prodigal director, Takashi Miike. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond his control, Miike had to cancel his trip to NYC, but there are obviously more pressing issues at hand. We wish the best for him and his family.

The fun kicks off with The City of Lost Souls(2000) at 2:15pm. says - "Japanese-Brazilian hit-man Mario (Teah, Dead or Alive 2) and Chinese hairdresser Kei (Hong Kong actress Michele Reis, Fallen Angels) are desperate to escape the country–and their psychotic exes. To pay for their passage, the pair plot to steal a briefcase of cash from dueling, drug-dealing gangs. Instead, Mario accidentally swipes a couple kilos of cocaine and Kei is kidnapped by the yakuza. Effortlessly blending comedy, film noir, and HK-action, the endless plot twists and hilarious visuals are unadulterated Miike, and the film’s Matrix-inspired CGI cockfight scene is now a legendary part of the director’s filmography. Possibly the most succinct encapsulation of the director’s themes of displacement, multi-ethnic strife, outsiders in Japan, and the relationship between love and violence, The City of Lost Souls is also a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish."

Second round starts at 4:30PM with Sinjuku Triad Society(1995)... says - "Turf wars, rent boys, and so-bad-its-good club music abound in the first of Miike’s ultra-violent, serpentinely-plotted “Black Society Trilogy,” and the first film the director made specifically for cinema release in Japan, as opposed to his direct-to-VHS “V-cinema” titles. Tatsuhito Kiriya (Kippei Shiina, from Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage), a half-Chinese, half-Japanese policeman in Tokyo’s hard-boiled Kabuki-cho red light district, attempts to track down and arrest Wang, a vicious and lethal, gay Taiwanese Triad leader (played by Miike regular and original Tetsuo the Iron Man Tomorow Taguchi). To alleviate the heat from running a prostitution ring, baiting the yakuza, and evading the police, Wang hires a lawyer––Tatsuhito’s little brother. Unblinkingly documenting real-life brutality and ethnic tensions, it’s essential viewing for Miike completists and a gritty, hard-edged thriller, much of it shot guerrilla-style on location in the back alleys of Shinjuku."

At 7:00pm, the reason to celebrate this retrospective...13 Assassins(2010) says - "Japan was violently rocked, swallowed by the ocean as the lives of many disappeared amid the rubble. I had wanted to be here with you all. I had wanted to thank you all for coming from the bottom of my heart. But that wish was not granted. It is unfortunate and I am very sorry. Please accept my regrets. But, from this adversity -- on our lives -- we will all rise up without fail. As a start, I would be grateful if you could enjoy Japan from this film."

Miike’s latest is an exciting, blood-stirring, totally faithful remake of the 1963 samurai-siege classic from director Eiichi Kudo, and a welcome respite from the typically antiseptic, overly melodramatic TV fodder that passes for swordplay cinema in Japan in recent years. Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?, Babel) stars as Shinzaemon, loyal retainer to Lord Doi (Mikijiro Hira, Pistol Opera), who gives him a difficult, delicate mission from which there will be no return: assemble a team of expert swordsmen and slay the half-brother and heir apparent to the current Shogun, a sadistic madman named Naritsugu (pop star Goro Inagaki) who will destroy the country if he comes to power. But after over 200 years of peace, the samurai are all but government functionaries, trained in the sword but without any experience in fighting. For Shinzaemon, however, it’s a perfect opportunity to realize the ultimate reward a warrior craves: to die in battle at the service of your master. So the plan is set in motion: stop Naritsugu’s caravan of soldiers at a small mountain town, trap his men, and slaughter them. The odds? An impossible 200 to 13.

With 13 Assassins, Miike finds the perfect opportunity to prove to audiences around the world that he is capable of a big, action-filled matinee crowd-pleaser, almost (but not completely) devoid of many of the bizarre quirks that define his films, yet filled with great performances, a strong screenplay by Audition scriptwriter Daisuke Tengan, and action action action. Easily taking its place beside many of the best swordplay films of the 1960s, 13 Assassins is bloody, dirty, and downright mean, and one of the manliest, most rousing big-screen adventures you’re likely to experience this year, with an unbelievable forty-minute battle royale finale. Magnolia Pictures will be offering the film on nationwide video-on-demand starting March 25th and opening it in cinemas at the end of April — here’s your chance to catch an early preview."

and the night ends at 10:00pm with a screening of Fudoh:The New Generation(1996) says - "Among the first of Miike’s films to play overseas, and the first to come to home video in the U.S., Fudoh also marks the first time all the elements came together that audiences would later associate with his films: splatter, over-the-top plot devices, a mischievous sense of black humor, crazily-drawn characters, and a healthy dose of sex and violence. Originally made for the home video market, after completion producers decided it was good enough for a domestic theatrical run! Riki Fudoh is the son of a yakuza boss forced to execute his own son, Riki’s older brother Ryu, in penance for offending a rival gang. Ten years later, 17-year-old Riki leads a high school yakuza gang of his own making: a group of machine gun-toting rugrat hitmen, schoolgirl assassins, a transsexual stripper, and a hulking giant of a transfer student. After asserting control over the rival adult gangs in the area, Riki sets his sights on his ultimate target—his own father, to avenge his brother’s murder. Featuring an early appearance by V-cinema stalwart Riki Takeuchi (later the co-star of the Dead or Alive series) in a mullet that has to be seen to be believed, Fudoh is a crazy, sex-and-violence-filled tornado. It’s one of the wildest rides from a filmmaker who specializes in shocking his audience, and is guaranteed to offend you in one way or another. You have been warned."

Walter Reade Theater, West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, on the upper level, Upper West Side

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