on 27 September 2003
Written and directed by, but not starring the multi talented, hardest working person in show-biz, Takeshi Kitano, Dolls is a film that will surprise anyone with preconceptions. Book-ended by a Japanese puppet theatre show, telling a tragic love story, the film tells three stories in Kitano Takeshi's almost trade-mark style, but with subtle differences. There is violence, but the viewer only sees the results. There is an almost Sakamoto-esque soundtrack. The main story centres on a couple roped together as they walk through the four seasons and beautifully shot surroundings ( an abundance of blossoms, autumnal maple leaves and crisp snow). Two other stories cross at tangents; a Yakuza clan boss who left his girlfriend years before, only to find she had kept her promise to him, and a disturbingly avid fan of a pop star, who goes to extraordinary lengths to meet the star after she retires from public life after an accident. There are many images to help tell the stories, but there is no superfluous dialogue to get in the way or distract the viewer from the smallest details to the stunning landscapes that are more than mere backdrops. All tell of how devoted love can make a person. All tell how futile the same love can become.
on 26 March 2009
Takeshi Kitano may be everywhere in Japanese media but unlike the omnipresence of Western celebrities, Kitano is an artist and the Japanese recognise this.
Dolls is a film of pure sumptuousness. The story line and the structure of the narrative are played out so beautifully. The emotions of the players are powerfully put over by an outstanding cast and the palette of colours assault the senses , leaving the viewer to gasp in wonder.
The whole concept of the film, that brings to mind Shakespeare's famous line from As You Like It, `All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players:` is not a film of pessimism this is a film that celebrates life in all its glory.
on 5 April 2006
I loved this movie! Everything about it from the acting (or lack of in that the actors act like marionettes and therefore with very little facial expression) It's beautiful with interconnections between different stories and different peoples lives that find a commen cord.
Slow, ponderous, replete with imagery, this is a sit down and watch, then gaze into a deep pool of lapping human emotions, each welling to the surface after years of repression. It is ladled with casks of pathos, the feelings stemming from growing older linked to the deep well of regret and what should have been. 3 stories about love and loss.
Shot with an artistic beauty and an unsettling musical score that highlights the haunting nature of being alive, although this film is about regret, its message is to grasp the rungs of resonation. To live each moment is the message, not in oblivion, but in thought and connection.
Love here, is seen as a psychological health condition, driving people to the extremes of deep inner melancholia as they strive to find a meaning for their lives. The 3 scenes all connect at points, all are signpost to a world where striving is nothing, without having an emotional connection to someone.
Takeshi's statement on attachment bonds are literal, as the main characters walk across the barren land bound by a single red chord. This is the symbol of their connection, as they recognise their emotional strength through inhabiting shared memories.
A haunting film that peers into the impact of emotional loss, and the gradual erosion of memories linked to the pain of striving forward whilst losing the sense of humanity within a process of economic ascendancy.
Takeshi is usually perceived as a man who shoots them up, not in a Seagal/Van Damme/Stallone action pack bang bang gangsta killa film. Instead he infuses his films with that Eastern long drawn out alienated cold frozen sociopathic inability to communicate mannerisms. He has always been beyond high intelligence, but here he cascades into the deep emotional well to draw upon its contents and has brought them up for all to gaze into the bucket. This is an emotional inspection most western film makers avoid at all costs, along with their legion of thrill seeking acolytes.
Composed with an almost rennaissance artistic vision, each frame being thought through for visual effect, its inner symbolism, as well as its emotional impact.
This will appeal to those who recognise they have an inner beating heart and there are no blockages to their human impulses. Others will just be left wondering what on earth this is all about, isn't it a little long, the gangster shots were the best bits and...
on 13 April 2012
I watched this just because Yoji created the clothing for the film. This film is fantastic the color is stunning and presents the deep understanding of this within the film. The story line is really something that if you have been in love/lust can relate to. I can watch this film over and over it's something that stays in the mind for a long time and is worth watching to see something powerful and inspire the creative mind. It's a film i recommend to y friends and am looking forward to seeing other films by the maker
on 23 November 2003
I was lucky enough to see this film on big screen but viewing it on a smaller screen doesn't take away the original beauty of this film! it is TOTALLY awe inspiring, a film i hope you all have the chance to see.
on 15 January 2005
This Japanese film is probably the most disturbing and disquieting film I have seen in many months or even years, and yet also one of the most Japanese films I have ever admired and enjoyed, that naturally came from Japan. The rhythm say some is slow. In fact it is real. Long shots, long sequences of people in real time, in the time of real reality. Nothing virtual about it. Then pictures, landscapes, urbanscapes, moutainscapes that are breathtaking by their beauty, for sure, but also their density and symbolic value. From one sequence to the next, from one scene to the next, symbolical elements are entertwined with the utmost art and delicacy, fineness and minuteness. These symbolical elements that run through the film are extremely difficult to capture, and yet the eye picks them, recognizes them and it is quite a pleasure to shift from one situation to the next without a complete break, with a constant reference from one to the others. The integration of Bunraku « puppets » is a marvellous idea and effect. The puppets become alive into the characters and the characters become dead into the puppets that are alive in spite of the inertia that is theirs, an inertia that can only be moved by three manipulators per puppet, one actor and one musician. That is a lot of people behind the china and cloth actors. And that is not all. The film reveals the deep layers of universal consciousness in front of love, death and life. Love cannot be escaped and if you try to do so, you will have to pay. Death cannot be imposed onto any one, and if one tries to do so on his neighbour, sooner or later, he will meet with this death in his own life. Life cannot be transformed into a game, because it is not a game. If you try to become the slave of such a game, of such a fancy, of such a mania, you will have to face life in the eyes and death will ensue. And the film closes, or nearly on the final image of the main metaphor : love, when betrayed, becomes an enslavement, a mendicant's fate, a couple of lost souls forever tied up and led on the road to the past to their truth, to falling into some an abyss, and dying not in one another's arms but dangling like two mangled pieces of game side to side in midair. And the hunter is that great leveller of our world, that great justice-maker of our world, that life-love-death, the triple goddess of so many mythologies, the trinity of so many religions, the triad of so many imaginations, that looms in the sky of our vanity immense, eternal and unfathomable.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
on 18 March 2011
I bought this film just to watch to keep my language skills 'warm'. The pace is slow at times, but the photography beautiful. I am well-used to the Japanese convention that youthful love is a sublime madness that generally ends in death. However I was surprised to find how physically moved I felt at the end - the emotional impact built up quite invisibly and caused a shift in my attitudes.
I'd love to join the Amazon reviewers awarding this peculiar film five stars, but to be honest this art-house product isn't going to please all film fans: even those few in the market for a movie in Japanese entirely devoid of swordplay, martial arts and (but for some very brief scenes) guns.
Takeshi Kitano here delivers a purely aesthetic experience: three moving but somewhat twisted love stories, beautifully filmed and acted but unsettlingly devoid of traditional "cathartic release". If you liked the painting scenes in "Hana-Bi" or the geisha's dance in "Zatoichi", then you may well love this. If, on the other hand, you liked the bloody massacres in "Hana-Bi" and stylish dismemberments in "Zatoichi", this is best avoided.
Personally I enjoyed it, but - hey! - I think that "Interiors" is a pretty good Woody Allen film ...
Told through a mixture of old Japanese culture and contemporary film-making, the three separate love stories overlap and interweave cleverly but subtly, too.
Without any sullying from saccharine sweetness or melancholy, all three tales strain the credibility of what we would normally think a person's love for another would go to. But, that's the beauty - this is a dream-felt movie, exagerating hardship and our emotions to emphasise that extraordinary bond that love can be.
It's all interconnected by symbolisms and the extraordinary cinematography of Katsumi Yanagijima has us shimmering and floating in rose gardens, amongst autumnal leaves and under cherry-tree blossom. It is here that we take breath and sigh, after the often difficult human journeys we've just seen the characters go through. We cannot help but feel that we have journeyed with them - and perhaps suffered too.
To me, it's the first story of the jilted bride who's rejection sends her insane and the subsequent redemption and dedication from her boyfriend to the extent that they become homeless that it the most moving. Their story united the other two stories and adds symbolism at the end. The tale of the ageing Yakuza who finally feels that he needs more than his violent lifestyle to exist as a human being and the fanaticism for a young pop singer also paint vivid pictures on Japan's social and cultural agenda.
It did remind me of south Korea's 'Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...' in that often idyllic and contemplative gestures and activities are interspersed with morally questioning random acts that leave cavities in people's lives and the atonement needed to rectify them; or at least to try to, in a soul-satisfying way.