VENICE (Reuters) - Japan’s Takeshi Kitano pokes fun at himself, fellow film-makers and the cinema industry in his latest work, the surreal tale of a director on a quest to shoot the ultimate movie that everyone will love.
In “Kantoku Banzai!” (“Glory to The Filmmaker!”), Kitano interprets himself as the frustrated director who explores every possible film genre in the hope of finally scoring the box office success that has eluded him, but fails at each attempt.
The film was presented this week at the Venice festival, where Kitano won the Golden Lion in 1997 with “Hana-Bi”. A favorite on the Lido, his film features outside competition, in a special section dedicated to cinema’s masters.
In it, Kitano carries around a life-size doll that looks like him, and encounters everything from ancient swordsmen to space aliens as he ponders whether to make a violent action film, a tearful drama, a costume epic, a horror flick or a science fiction extravaganza.
The film is far from the “very classical movie” Kitano had said he wanted to make when he last came to Venice in 2005 to present “Takeshis’”, another wacky semi-biographical work in which the director plays a TV celebrity and his alter-ego.
Back then he vowed to finish with the kind of yakuza gangster films that have made him a cult name outside Japan. At home, he is still best known for his television work in the comic duo “The Two Beat”.
But Kitano said on Friday his latest film should be seen as a sequel to “Takeshis’” and part of a reflection on his eclectic career — he promised a third installment.
He said the film was born out of his frustration that none of his works have ever turned into blockbusters.
“This project started this way: How come my films are not successful in theatres? How come there are no spectators?” he said. “I was considering this problem and I thought I had to rethink what kind of film I am making to be successful.”
He said he could not keep dismissing more commercial directors and their box office hits and at the same time complain about his own situation — and so decided to make a parody of himself and “create havoc”.
“I come from a comic background, I was a stand-up comic and I also made various TV shows in which I used to laugh about myself,” Kitano said.
“So, what I wanted to do with this film was to use self irony, in the sense that I am a director but I have no success because nobody comes and sees my movies.”
In one early scene, Kitano’s lookalike doll undergoes a brain scan in what, according to a reviewer, symbolizes the public trying to figure out what goes on in the director’s head.
But some critics argue that the film may reflect a film maker who has run out of ideas.
Other sequences are taken from Kitano’s gangster characters and scenes in earlier movies, from his directorial debut “Violent Cop” to “Zatoichi”, which won Venice’s Silver Lion in 2003, to “Takeshis’”.