Takashi Miike

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Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike (三池崇史 Miike Takashi) (born August 24, 1960 in Osaka, Japan) is a highly prolific Japanese filmmaker, having directed over sixty theatrical, video and television productions since his debut in 1991 (in the years 2001 and 2002, he is credited with directing no fewer than fourteen productions). He is best known for depicting shocking scenes of extreme violence and bizarre sexual perversions.

Contents

Career profile

Although Miike claimed to rarely attend classes, he graduated from Yokohama Vocational School of Broadcast and Film (Yokohama Hoso Eiga Senmon Gakko), under the guidance of renowned filmmaker Shohei Imamura, the founder and Dean.

His very first films were television productions, but he also began directing several V-Cinema releases (these were purportedly financed as money-laundering operations for the yakuza, although there has never been any conclusive proof of this). He continues to direct V-Cinema releases intermittently today, due to the creative freedom afforded by the less stringent censorship of the medium, and the riskier content the producers will allow.

Miike's theatrical debut was Shinjuku Triad Society (1995), which showcased his extreme style and his recurring themes, and its success gave him the freedom to work on higher budgeted pictures. He gained international fame in 2000 when his romantic horror film Audition (1999) and his violent yakuza epic Dead or Alive (1999) debuted in international film festivals, and has gained a strong cult following in the West that is growing with the increase in DVD releases of his works.

Film themes

Many of his films contain graphic, almost cartoonish violence and bloodshed; portray the activities of criminals (especially yakuza); or concern themselves with non-Japanese living in Japan. He is known for his black sense of humour, and for pushing the boundaries of censorship as far as they will go. Another recurring aspect of his films is the seemingly deliberately ambiguous or unsatisfying endings. The subsequent discussions about the meaning of these endings has added to his cult status.

Although he has gained worldwide notoriety and fame from his "extreme" output, he has continued to direct many films that do not set out to shock audiences: for example, The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) is a farcical musical comedy involving zombies, while Ley Lines (1999) and Agitator (2001) are character-driven, serious crime dramas. The Bird People in China (1998) is a generally peaceful road movie, and Graveyard of Honor (2002) is a remake of the 1975 Kinji Fukasaku film by the same name. Andoromedeia (1998), perhaps one of his less renowned films, is a teen drama starring the J-pop girl-band SPEED. His continuing work in a wide variety of genres ranks him as one of Japan's most versatile directors.

Controversy

Miike's oeuvre is often regarded by detractors as offensively misogynistic. His supporters point out that it is usually Miike's female characters who retain ultimate power, which they use to overturn established principles of Japanese patriarchy (e.g. Audition (1999), Visitor Q (2001)). His supporters see his works as uncompromising comments on the customs of an increasingly fractured modern society, and insist that the violence in his films functions more as a critique of Japanese culture than a celebration of its violent excesses.

One of his most controversial films was the ultra-violent Ichi the Killer (2001), adapted from a manga of the same name, and starring Tadanobu Asano as a sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer. The extreme violence was initially exploited to promote the film: during its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001, the audience received "barf bags" emblazoned with the film's logo as a promotional gimmick (one typically flamboyant gory killing involves a character slicing a man in half from head to groin, and severing another's face, which then slides down a nearby wall).

However, the BBFC refused to allow the release of the film uncut in Britain, citing its extreme levels of sexual violence towards women. Many regarded this as inconsistency, as they had recently passed Irrversible (2002), a film featuring a nine-minute rape scene, uncut. In Hong Kong, 15 minutes of footage was cut. In the United States it has been shown uncut (although unrated). An uncut DVD was also released in the Benelux.

Selected Filmography

  • Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)
  • Fudoh: The New Generation (1996)
  • Rainy Dog (1997)
  • Full Metal Yakuza (1997)
  • The Bird People in China (1998)
  • Andoromedeia (1998)
  • Blues Harp (1998)
  • Ley Lines (1999)
  • Dead or Alive (1999)
  • Audition (1999)
  • MPD Psycho (2000) (TV miniseries)
  • City of Lost Souls (2000)
  • The Guys from Paradise (2000)
  • Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000)
  • Visitor Q (2001)
  • Ichi the Killer (2001)
  • Agitator (2001)
  • The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
  • Dead or Alive: Final (2002)
  • Graveyard of Honor (2002)
  • Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002)
  • Gozu (2003)
  • One Missed Call (2003)
  • Zebraman (2004)
  • Three... Extremes (2004) - segment "Box"
  • Izo (2004)

Quotes

"I go to the dentist, not a shrink." (interview with Daniel Robert Epstein [1] (http://suicidegirls.com/words/Takashi+Miike+director+of+Gozu/))

References

  • Mes, Tom. Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike. Godalming: FAB Press, 2003. ISBN 1903254213

External links

fr:Takashi_Miike it:Takashi Miike ja:三池崇史

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