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Agitator - The Cinema of Takashi Miike
picture: Agitator - The Cinema of Takashi Miike picture: Agitator - The Cinema of Takashi Miike
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picture: Agitator - The Cinema of Takashi Miike

Exclusive samples

From the foreword by Makoto Shinozaki:

"Jean-Luc Godard once declared that the difference between writing about film and making a film is a matter of quantity, not quality. I have no doubt that Tom's words as written in this book are proof of this statement. However, his subjects are the films of Takashi Miike, which defy simple analysis and which have a tough skin and strong vitality. How will Tom's critical blade cut into them? Will that battle become as intense as the final scene of Dead or Alive and blow up half the earth? Or will it result in an emotional and beautiful finale like in Dead or Alive 2? Or maybe the outcome will be a completely unexpected fusion like the end of Dead or Alive - Final. One thing is certain: none of us who serve as witnesses will emerge unaffected."

From Chapter 1 - The Dirt Bike Kid:

"Literally plucked away from his part time job, Miike found himself an unpaid production assistant on the set of the television series Black Jack: "Most of the crew on those TV series were salaried employees of a production company," he says. "They had union rules to make sure they didn't have to work too many hours. After they went home, us freelance people would have to work really hard to make sure the production finished on schedule. The regular crew were normal people who had finished their education and were doing this as a job. Those people and the movies they made were completely uninteresting. What they wanted most was to lead comfortable lives, not to create something special.""

From Chapter 3 - The Video Years:

"From the film's opening scene it's immediately clear that the intentions here are hardly feminist. Two of the main characters, policewomen Atsuko and Yoko, are introduced while mistaking their colleague Kawamura for a criminal. As they knock him senseless, they accidentally set free the suspect he was about to apprehend, but whom the girls mistook for his victim. Throughout the film, the four women are equal parts tough, cute and stupid. Their training regimen consists of gymnastic exercises with hula hoops, serpentines and rubber balls, which they ultimately use to defeat the film's main villain - a perverse yakuza in rubber underwear who kills college girls after having sex with them. The women call their secret pact 'Eyecatch Junction', named after the effect their exercises in skin-tight leotards have on their male colleagues."

From Chapter 4 - The Outlaw Director:

On Audition:
"The other reason is that by having a woman overpower a man - who lies helpless at her feet - there is the implication of feminist intent. Indeed, many critics in Europe and the USA read the film as a feminist statement and the torture scene was regarded as proof. The film sets up a series of incidents which could be regarded as sexist: Aoyama's list of criteria for his new bride, the impersonal way in which he goes about finding his candidate, the fact that his choice is half his age, his abuse of power, the character of Yoshikawa and most of all the audition scene itself, in which thirty women are deceived into baring their breasts and their innermost feelings to two complete strangers because of one man who doesn't have the patience to meet women on equal terms. With this in mind, it's easy to read Asami's mutilation of Aoyama as revenge, a form of 'just desserts' for the wrongs he has done her and other women. But to interpret Asami as an angel of vengeance is to mistake her character. Her actions are not motivated by an ideological agenda. At no time during the film is she a representative for an entire gender, just an individual with a troubled history. Also, to interpret her in this way is to deny the fact that she too has lied and deceived."

On Visitor Q:
"When Kiyoshi accidentally strangles her in his rage, he takes her home and deposits her corpse in the garden greenhouse. He sends the visitor (who has been filming throughout with Kiyoshi's consent) into the house to fetch some garbage bags, then continues to mark the parts of Asako's body that he intends to cut off for easier disposal. He discovers that he becomes aroused by the sight of her naked body, then turns to the camera and says he finally discovered the feeling he couldn't acknowledge before: a desire to have sex. If this is what he repressed, then he has been denying himself since his children were born. The moment when being a parent became more important than being a lover, he conformed to his duty and repressed his desires. The choice to make him rediscover a desire for sex (which he will then naturally act upon because realisation equals liberation) instead of a random other emotion is therefore anything but exploitative. It's quite the opposite: being true to the character and to the film's theme."

On Ichi the Killer:
" The film is not only an exploration into the possibilities of cinema, but also a critical examination of the medium and of the interaction between the moving image and the spectator. The film as a whole is a completely cohesive unity, in that all of its parts are absolutely crucial to the functioning of the whole. Any attempt at censorship or toning down the violence will have the opposite effect: it will in fact make the film more exploitative."

From Chapter 6 - Ichi the Killer production diary by Takashi Miike:

"Casting advanced quickly. Shinya Tsukamoto for Jijii, Sabu for Kaneko, Suzuki Matsuo for Jiro. These names are very underground. Also, they are all directors. They should be able to direct themselves, so I can make the film even when I'm asleep. It's a casting that breaks the rules.
It's not only cast, but also crew:
Director of photography Hideo Yamamoto, who has the same name as the author and looks like Billiken. He is a gentle sniper, who does everything from low-budget films to big blockbusters like Whiteout.
For costumes we get the notable Michiko Kitamura and for the soundtrack Seiichi Yamamoto of The Boredoms.
Well, big surprises could happen. If I can start shooting, an easy victory awaits me.
Wait… Who will play Ichi?

Damn, I forgot to decide the actor for Ichi."


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