on 12 January 2003
Miike Takashi (or Takashi Miike as he's shown in credits) is one of asia's finest directors. He is in every sense of the word an 'autuer'. But unlike most autuers, he is often mis-understood and not fully appreciated. His films are consistant, connected, and show a natural progression for the most part. And as he somehow manages to churn out around 7 films every year ( !!!! ) he is surely one of the hardest working film-makers in the world.
Having seen his beautifully creepy Audition, i read great things about his others works, and seeing that 'Dead or Alive' and 'The City of the Lost Souls' were both out here i quickly snapped them up. I just watched 'City...' and will be off in a sec to watch 'Dead or Alive', but havent yet so i apologise for the lack of reflection between the two.
City of the Lost Souls is a crzy, primary colored, fierce look at the seedy underworld of Asia. But unlike most films like this, it centers around a romance story, that whilst never really being explored, is tragically beautiful enough to keep the story going. The editing of this film is clearly were it made its mark, and i applaud it for its gorgeous and inventive scenes of metaphorical madness, and imaginative sequences of magical make-believe. Like a honey coated cross between Natural Born Killers, True Romance, Doom Generation, Nowhere, and a Wong Kar-Wai flick, we are driven through cut after cut of almost surreal visual narrative.
Whilst it's slightly hard to follow in places, and is really only worth watching if (like me) you crave visual substance and pure creative energy, the film still manages to carve out a seat for itself amongst Asia's finest. It has none of the meditative poetry of say Takashi's Hana-bi, and none of the blurry romantic urbaness of a Wong Kar-Wai film, but it is so damn inventive that you have to sit up and take notice. If it had not been handled so perfectly one could almost imagine it as yet another terribly acted, and abysmally directed Asian fantasy films that 98% of the world loath ! But thank god the fantasy elements here are plucked straight as an insight into the lead characters minds, and more importantly - Miike Takashi's.
Apparantly Dead or Alive is even better ! So i'll be back to review it in a bit.
If you like this then check out the beutifully filmed 'Bangkok Dangerous' and a personal fav of mine 'Nowhere To Hide'.
on 7 October 2007
But I enjoyed Gozu a lot more. Yes, the energy and ideas were there, but regular violence substituted for a more satisfying plot. Nice to see a bit of Capoeira in a film, it could have been made more of. Gozu is the one to see, so far for me.