Takeshi Kitano

"As an actor Kitano is a master of impassive cool… His direction is equally economic: dialogue is kept to a minimum, the static, immaculately framed compositions are often shot from directly in front of the characters, and the cutting is elliptical yet to the point… A true original, Kitano is one of the most exciting, adventurous and distinctive film-makers at work today." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)

Takeshi Kitano

Director / Actor / Screenwriter / Editor
(1947- ) Born January 18, Tokyo, Japan
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: Japan
Key Genres: Crime Drama, Gangster Film, Drama, Comedy Drama, Crime Thriller, Crime, Coming-of-Age, Action, Road Movie
Key Collaborators: Masayuki Mori (Producer), Katsumi Yanagijima (Cinematographer), Takio Yoshida (Producer), Joe Hisaishi (Composer), Norihiro Isoda (Production Designer), Susumu Terajima (Leading Character Actor), Ren Osugi (Character Actor), Makoto Ashikawa (Character Actor), Yuko Daike (Character Actress), Hisao Nabeshima (Producer), Kayoko Kishimoto (Leading Character Actress), Tetsu Watanabe (Leading Character Actor)

"The single most arresting filmmaker working in Japan today, Takeshi Kitano is one of the most original and idiosyncratic artists in world cinema. Oscillating between extreme, hard-boiled yakuza thrillers, wild knockabout comedy and plaintive, frankly sentimental, love stories, Kitano likes to mix things up. Indeed, his anarchic fondness for counterpoint is a defining characteristic; violence and comedy are closely related in his work, sometimes to unsettling effect." - Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Kitano began as an actor and is remembered for his prison-camp commander in Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). But he is a man of many other talents. In Japan, he is best known as 'Beat' Takeshi - a stand-up comedian who has become a leading chat-show host. On the art-house circuit, he is chiefly thought of as the most original Japanese director since Oshima. He specializes in offbeat gangster films, in which he plays the leading role - violent, even sadistic, but leavened by a vein of humour and humanity." - The Movie Book, 1999
"More or less, the European filmgoer has to assume and accept that Beat Takeshi – as he is known in Japan – is far removed from the ­classical Japanese film-makers, from Ozu, Mizoguchi, Naruse and Kurosawa. Instead, he is the epitome of the modern Japanese spirit – tough, urban, media-savvy, violent, poker-faced yet oddly sentimental, too. In Beat's world, one encounters the gangsters, the sluts, the lost children, the hangers-on and the debris of an impossibly ­competitive, ­unrelenting wasteland in which the tropes of American style, talk and ­iconographylinger like absurd ghosts.." - David Thomson (The Guardian, 2010)
"In the late '70s, Japan's Takeshi Kitano became a comedic superstar under the name Beat Takeshi, performing with Kaneko Kiyoshi as The Two Beats. By the turn of the millennium, Kitano had established himself as one of Japan's most important directors. In between, he's written novels and newspaper columns, recorded albums, and exhibited his paintings, all while sustaining a career as an actor and TV personality… Kitano spent the '90s alternating between quiet, reflective works (the surfing drama A Scene At The Sea, the coming-of-age story Kids Return, and the kid-oriented road comedy Kikujiro) and melancholy crime films like Boiling Point, Sonatine, and Fireworks (Hana-Bi). His reputation in the West rests squarely on these last two films, which achieve a mix of deadpan comedy, graphic violence, austere visuals, and melancholy drama that's simultaneously unsettling and satisfying." - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club, 2004)
"Stillness dominates Kitano’s style. Characters are planted in static compositions. Violent Cop opens on a seeming freeze-frame of a smiling toothless vagrant; Boiling Point on a long, dark, static face, Masaki in an outhouse. Detective Azuma rings a doorbell, and waits…and waits…and waits. And even during a shootout in an Okinawan bar, Sonatine‘s gunmen stand, nailed to the floor, weapons extended stiff-armed in a locked frame." - Bob Davis (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
"During the 1990s, the face of Japanese cinema projected internationally was almost entirely that of one man. With titles such as Sonatine (1993), Hana-bi (1997) and Brother (2000), Takeshi Kitano represented the ultimate actor-writer-director package. In these pictures he gives a succession of domineering turns as world-weary, self-destructive cops, or gang bosses whose unpredictable fits of savagery place them way outside the boundaries of everyday society. Typically, his eyes are obscured by dark glasses, while his cold, dispassionate demeanour only fleetingly breaks into rictus-like grins." - Jasper Sharp (BFI, 2017)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Hana-bi (1997)
Recommended
Boiling Point (1990), A Scene at the Sea (1991), Sonatine (1993) , Zatoichi (2003)
Worth a Look
Violent Cop (1989), Kids Return (1996), Kikujiro (1999), Dolls (2002)
Approach with Caution
Brother (2000)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Takeshi Kitano / Favourite Films
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) Sam Peckinpah, A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick, Crazy Thunder Road (1980) Gakuryu Ishii, Darkman (1990) Sam Raimi, Les Enfants du paradis (1945) Marcel Carné, The Railroad Man (1956) Pietro Germi, Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa, To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) William Friedkin, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick, Wild at Heart (1990) David Lynch.
Source: Time Out (1995)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Hana-Bi
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