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Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto
picture: Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto picture: Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto
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picture: Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto

"Shinya Tsukamoto belongs to a genre of filmmakers who come from very different parts of the world, but who are very similar in spirit. Like David Lynch, Tod Browning or Jean Cocteau, Tsukamoto's films allow us to explore a world of dark corners. His subjects are very personal and very Japanese, but he manages to make us all share in those experiences, no matter where we come from. His films explore zones that we all have inside of us, but he is one of the few people capable of bringing them to the surface. Tsukamoto translates what we cannot grasp."

—Marc Caro
co-director of Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children

News and Reviews

September 11, 2006 - Firecracker features a side-by-side review of Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto ("an immensely readable survey of Tsukamoto's distinctive approach and oeuvre") and The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film ("Mes and Sharp's superb tome").

May 29, 2006 - Iron Man author Tom Mes will introduce the screening of Shinya Tsukamoto's Haze at the Camera Japan festival in Rotterdam on Friday, June 2.

May 26, 2006 - Kumite, one of France's leading Asian film mags, has a look at Iron Man in its May issue: "Halfway between biography and auteurist study, Iron Man could be considered the literary equivalent of Paul Schrader's film Mishima. [...] A veritable tour de force on the part of Mes."

March 7, 2006 - Olaf Möller covers Iron Man in his Books Around column in Cinema Scope (winter issue, #25): "Another fine, diligently researched, well thought-through, and enjoyably readable monograph on an axiomatic auteur of modern Japanese cinema."

December 20, 2005 - Dutch pop culture magazine Zone 5300 reviews Iron Man: "Fans are advised to strike while the iron is hot and order this book immediately."

November 15, 2005 - France's Mad Movies magazine selects Iron Man as its "import of the month" in the November issue: "Not to be missed," is the verdict.

November 1, 2005 - "Imagine the perfect behind-the-scenes documentary converted into a book, and this would be the result!" so rave SexGoreMutants.

October 25, 2005 - 5 out of 5 for Iron Man at Kung Fu Cult Cinema: "A perfect homage to this great director."

October 24, 2005 - The latest issue (no. 29) of Shock Cinema reviews Iron Man and interviews Shinya Tsukamoto: "Tom Mes follows up on his Miike book Agitator with yet another exceptional volume devoted to one of Japan's most important artists. A smart, insightful tribute to a mind-blowing auteur, and essential reading for both novices to his work as well as longtime fans."

October 14, 2005 - In the October issue of top horror mag Rue Morgue: "Straightforward, easy to read and extremely informative (Mes approaches each work from the perspective of historian, philosopher, critic and storyteller), the 200-plus page book is a captivating examination of an artist who started in horror hybrids and pushed his vision through some wonderfully strange territory."

October 13, 2005 - Read the interview with Tom Mes in the latest issue of Wicked Karnival magazine.

October 10, 2005 - "This book is now the definitive resource that should be read by anyone interested in Tsukamoto, his impact on Japanese films, and his perception in the West - and actually by anyone interested in recent cinematic developments in Japan." So writes Johannes Schonherr in issue 17 of Film International.

September 22, 2005 - Total Film (UK) in its October issue: "The author of 2003's Agitator [...] weighs in again with an avid look at the godfather of Japanese body-horror, Shinya Tsukamoto. Intelligent and accessible."

September 21, 2005 - Iron Man is Book of the month in the September issue of Britain's Hot Dog magazine: "Together with Mes' Miike biog Agitator, this makes the perfect introduction to the genre."

September 13, 2005 - Kim Newman reviews Iron Man in this month's issue of Empire: "Mes' careful, intelligent book mixes an account of the director's life and career with analysis of the oeuvre. It's also beautifully designed and illustrated." **** out of 5.

September 12, 2005 - Those in Belgium can pick up the September issue of Film/TV/DVD magazine for a review of Iron Man: "Tom Mes is an authority on modern Japanese cinema [...] With Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto he adds a new entry to what will hopefully become a long series [...] an exceptional study."

August 18, 2005 - "Tsukamoto could not have wished for a more devoted biographer and commentator." Such is the opinion of Dutch cultural e-zine 8Weekly.

August 17, 2005 - The Horror Channel finds Iron Man more up its alley: "This is a must read for Tsukamoto fans and aspiring filmmakers alike as it offers an intimate look into the mind of a truly original artist." They also interview Tom Mes about his book and the career of Shinya Tsukamoto.

August 16, 2005 - V.A. Musetto in The New York Post: "Tom Mes has done it again. The critic follows his exhaustive study of Takashi Miike's prolific output with the equally thorough book Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto"

August 15, 2005 - 'Turning the World to Rust,' an interview with Tom Mes by Joel Pearce of DVD Verdict.

August 14, 2005 - The Rumour Machine takes a good look at Iron Man and likes what it sees: "a comprehensive and essential work"

August 13, 2005 - Read the review for Iron Man at AtrocitiesCinema.com: "The 'nutshell' version of this review would be simply thus: Tom Mes has done it again."

August 13, 2005 - HorrorTalk.com interviews Tom Mes about Iron Man and everything Tsukamoto-related.

July 22, 2005 - Issue 9 of Neo Magazine features the first review of Iron Man. "Another fine Mes!" writes Jonathan Clements. "This lavishly illustrated book not only examines Shinya Tsukamoto's films, but his formative years, fighting with his little brother (who he would eventually shove into a boxing ring in Tokyo Fist), watching anime and Gamera movies. A life of salaried drudgery beckons, until Tsukamoto strikes it lucky with an ultra-violent tale of metallic possession - Tetsuo.

In a sea of lacklustre, lazy books about Japanese cinema, compilations of press-notes and gee-whiz gross-outs, Tom Mes is a welcome beacon of sanity. He provocatively argues that Tsukamoto is one of Japan's truly original film-makers, with movies like Bullet Ballet, Gemini and Snake of June transcending lesser directors' shocks for shocks' sake.

Mes's last book, on Takashi Miike, was obliged to cover a pathologically prolific output. Tsukamoto has a smaller canon of just eight films, including the work-for-hire Hiruko the Goblin, about which not even the optimistic Mes can find much good to say. But exhaustive is as exhaustive does, and Mes dutifully files Tsukamoto's entire oeuvre, from teenage shorts to acting cameos in others' movies.

Mes reveals the careers of the films themselves, showing not merely how they were made but how they were sold. Tetsuo's success in particular was a product of its time, accidentally hitting the tail end of cyberpunk and body-horror. Mes helpfully outlines both phenomena, as well as the biggest catalyst of all, Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, with which Tetsuo shared a UK distributor.

Where most writers would simply reel off festival awards like merit badges, Mes gets into the nitty-gritty of who was on the juries. Consequently, we get to see Tsukamoto winning over The Piano's Jane Campion with an impassioned defence of movie violence; if that's not body-horror, I don't know what is. Mes affords us a rare glimpse of the politics that go on behind the scenes, both in the heart-rendingly Faustian pacts made over funding, and the schmoozing that gets a movie in front of foreign buyers at festivals. A respectful, honest account that will make Tsukamoto the envy of every other Japanese director... except Takashi Miike who already has a Mes to his name, and Akira Kurosawa, who's dead."

July 22, 2005 - Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto is out now!

July 18, 2005 - Sci-Fi.com interviews Tom Mes about Tetsuo: The Iron Man, just re-released on DVD through Tartan.

June 15, 2005 - Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto will receive its official unveiling at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal (July 7 - 25). Head straight for the FAB Press stand to make sure you're among the first to grab a copy!

June 15, 2005 - Check out issue #45 of Rue Morgue for an in-depth portrait of Shinya Tsukamoto and an interview with Tom Mes on his new book.

June 15, 2005 - Tom Mes interviews Shinya Tsukamoto on his 1991 demon horror extravaganza Hiruko the Goblin, in the June issue of Fangoria.

June 15, 2005 - Jonathan Clements in Newtype USA: "Tom Mes, author of the definitive guide to director Takashi Miike, is back with another book from English publisher FAB Press. This time, Mes turns his attentions to Shinya Tsukamoto, the cult director of Tetsuo and Tokyo Fist. Look out for Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto, packed with interviews, behind-the-scenes reports and detailed accounts of the making of Tsukamoto's movies."

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