Part of an occasional series in which Spank The Monkey travels to foreign countries, watches films in unfamiliar languages, and then complains about not understanding them. This episode: Hong Kong and Japan, May 2017. Additional photography by The Belated Birthday Girl.
At the Cannes festival last month, you could see – and hear, thanks to some conspicuous booing – the breakdown of the love-in between Western critics and Japanese director Takashi Miike, as his latest thriller Shield Of Straw got very short shrift indeed. Does this mark the end of Miike’s career as the go-to director for Asian weirdness? I suppose it depends on whether you trust the judgment of the sort of wankers who think that yelling at projected images will improve them.
Perhaps it’s the end of the respectable phase of Miike’s career – after a couple of years of working on the sort of serious drama that attracts festival programmers, he’s going back to just doing whatever takes his fancy. That’s not to say the boo-ers are wrong, though: in a career that’s getting close to hitting the 100 feature mark, he’s made a couple of undeniable stinkers. But no single film in his canon gives you any idea what the ones either side of it will be like. We can go back in time just one year – to June 2012, and the Japanese theatrical release of For Love’s Sake, now available in the UK – for a good example of that.
Trailer for this week? How about Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri?
Because there’s nothing like a bit of the ol’ ritual disembowelling to set you up for a Friday. This being Miike, I expect if the suicide does go through we won’t be spared the detail.
Link of the week is this Vanity Fair oral history of The Sopranos a set of screen tests for Gone With the Wind. You may consider yourself forewarned of future MostlyFilm content with that, too. Oh, yes.
Existing MostlyFilm content, which you may have missed:
A conversation between Spank The Monkey and The Belated Birthday Girl
SPANK THE MONKEY: This Friday sees the UK theatrical release of Takashi Miike’s second film, 13 Assassins. It’s been a full decade since his debut Audition was in cinemas here, and it’s hard to understand why a director with such a low work rate has achieved the reputation that … oh, I’m sorry, I can’t keep this up. I’m just trying to see if I can write the single most inaccurate opening paragraph ever published on Mostly Film. You’ve got the IMDB stats there: how many films has he made?
THE BELATED BIRTHDAY GIRL: Between Audition and 13 Assassins, about fifty. I think we’ve watched about 33 of his in total, but a couple of them pre-date Audition, so we’ve seen around half of those fifty.
STM: That’s handy. It’s always good to establish your credentials before the jump, I think.