Takashi Miike

Fantasia

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here. Reiji (Tôma Ikuta) is not a good cop. Not only did he score the lowest in the police academy’s history, but the citizens he’s serviced have had nothing but complaints about his lack of work ethic and unprofessional behavior. The latest incident — one that leads him to defend and qualify his own level of perviness as compared to real criminals — ends in his long overdue dismissal from the force. But as that door closes a new window opens, and Reiji jumps right through. In a manner of speaking. His boss, in collaboration with Japan’s version of the DEA, want him to go undercover in the yakuza, specifically with the Sukiya-kai gang, to discover the source of a deadly new street drug and arrest the man at the top. It won’t be easy, but if there’s one man for the job it most definitely isn’t Reiji. Unfortunately, he’s all they have and the only one seemingly capable of passing their tests. The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji is a mouthful of a title, but it’s worth opening up and taking it in as the film is easily Takashi Miike‘s most purely entertaining movie in thirteen years. With a sharp script, great performances and just the right amount and kind of cartoonish antics the film manages to be incredibly funny, wildly engaging and a bonkers feast for the eyes that riffs beautifully on the […]

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Audition Miike

This, by itself, is not news: another Japanese horror film is getting an English-language remake. Add in one crucial detail, however, and watch the newsiness bubble to life before your very eyes: the 1999 Japanese horror film Audition is getting an English-language remake. Unaware of what Audition is? It’s a simple story. A lonely man has spent too long doing the single dad thing and realizes that he needs a little love in his life to be truly complete. So he, his son and a buddy from the movie industry put together a mock audition where young women come to try out for “a role.” Unwittingly, they’re really auditioning to be the object of Mr. Lonely Dad’s affection. They end up with the perfect candidate for a girlfriend, but — surprise! — she’s nuts. Cue the kind of sick, godless horror depravity that disgusts people yet also makes them desperate to watch Audition. According to Deadline, producer Mario Kassar (The Terminator, Rambo, Basic Instinct) and Australian filmmaker Richard Gray (Mine Games) will be taking on the monumental task of turning the gross stuff Japanese audiences love into the gross stuff American audiences love. Gray will be sticking very closely to the original (and the 1997 novel it’s based on). Japanese names will be Americanized for our convenience — doting dad Shigeharu Aoyama is now Sam Davis, love interest/torturess Asami Yamazaki is now Evie Lawrence — but basically everything else will be the same. And in the case of Audition, “everything else” includes “hypodermic needles jammed into eyeballs” and “a disfigured man who […]

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Shield of Straw

Takashi Miike is a director fast becoming a regular fixture at the Cannes Film Festival, despite his notorious work-rate of often several films a year and the frequently inconsistent level of quality that this doubtless invites. Miike stands as one of very few directors who would be able to land a populist – at least for the standards of the festival – action thriller In Competition. As such, Shield of Straw is a refreshing palate-cleanser amid the more stereotypical festival fare, and on its own standing, coheres as a sharp thriller even as it weathers its fair share of flaws. Following his murder of a 7-year-old girl, serial killer Kunihide Kyomaru (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has a billion-Yen bounty placed upon his head by the child’s grandfather, Ninagawa (Tsutomu Yamazaki), with the peculiar condition that the murder be state-authorised (a rather oblique term never properly explained). As the tension rises, Kyomaru hands himself in to the police, yet with even the authorities aiming their sights at the man, it comes down to five outnumbered, outgunned cops, led by Lieutenant Kazuki Mekari (Takao Osawa), to protect a man they ostensibly cannot stand. Few of Miike’s films are ever quite the same, and here in both style and tone he seems to be moving towards the very much in-vogue Christopher Nolan style of filmmaking; high budget, boasting an accomplished look, portentous musical score, and sweeping themes that avidly echo Greek tragedy (but unlike Nolan, it’s bloody).

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Sion Sono is the genius who made two hours seem like weeks in Suicide Club but managed to make four hours fly by in Love Exposure. A couple of years ago, Noriko’s Dinner Table probably stood as his finest work, but Cold Fish far surpassed it with its testicular exploration of violence, family and loss of humanity. Plus, his latest work, Himizu – which focuses on two teenagers who take to fighting crime in a world post-tsunami – is getting high acclaim as well thanks to the Venice Film Festival. According to The Hollywood Reporter, his next move is to make a movie born out of the tragic Japanese earthquake of 2011 and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear fallout that came after, although the events will be fictionalized. Land of Hope will focus on a pregnant couple (Jun Murakami and Megumi Kagurazaka) who have to escape their farm because of an earthquake and nuclear plant accident. A few months after the earthquake in 2011, Japanese filmmaking icon Takashi Miike stated that, “I’m sure we will see, for example the kids that have grown up in this situation, the sort of wounds they have from the situation, we’ll definitely have to see it to some effect in our movies.” Sion Sono may not be a kid, but he’s a stellar force for telling this kind of story. In fact,there are few directors as tuned into stories that alter and challenge interpersonal relationships. Any news of a new film from him is celebratory […]

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Quirky, controversial director Takashi Miike’s latest film Ninja Kids!!! has been released in his home country of Japan for about two months now, so you know what that means…it’s time to start talking about the English-language remake! THR is reporting that a prominent studio is currently in talks to bring the property overseas and put it in a nice, neat Hollywood package that we can all consume without having to read nasty subtitles or hurt our heads trying to understand cultural specific conceits. Personally I have not seen Ninja Kids!!!, and seeing as it is so new, probably a lot of other people haven’t either. So before we decide if we’re excited for this remake or not, let’s take a look at what exactly the movie is.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing about movie stuff. Tonight’s edition features mini-ninjas, talk about naked pictures of Blake Lively, Sly Stallone set to music, an explanation of who Jane Lynch is, a joke about Michael Bay, an even less funny joke about Blake Lively and a profile of Richard Ayoade. That and more, we assure you. Above you will see something I never thought we’d lead with in a Movie News After Dark entry: someone’s grave stone. But there it is, the resting place of actor Leslie Nielsen. Modest, simple and complete with one last fart joke for the road. Nielsen may not have lasted forever, but his penchant for the fart joke will forever stay in our hearts.

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Takashi Miike has been accused of many things, but the pervading opinion that his name inspires is that he is one of the most creatively insane directors currently working in any cinematic market, and that “unrestrained” approach to filmmaking usually also means that his films are anything but typical (even in comparison with their fellows). So the opportunity to see another Samurai story, swiftly on the tails of the excellent 13 Assassins, and one remade from an absolute classic in the form of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 classic was one mixed with excitement and trepidation. The film focuses on the story of Hanshiro (Ebizo Ichikawa), an out of work samurai who visits the House of Ii in order to request to be allowed to commit Seppuku in their courtyard (the higher the prestige of a House, the more honor the shamed warrior can regain). Convinced he is bluffing in order to take advantage of the House’s good will, Kageyu (Lord Ii’s second in command) relates the harrowing story of a fellow shamed Samurai – Motome (Eita) – who had attempted a suicide bluff to gain financially, and who was made to go through with his Seppuku as an example against bluffing. Undeterred, Hanshiro affirms his intention, and requests that the House’s top samurai assist him, though they are coincidentally absent, and it quickly becomes clear that Hanshiro has more of a connection to the young Samurai than he originally confessed… It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine a pre-Kill Bill Tarantino eying […]

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The Week That Was

What is The Week That Was? Nothing much, just a recap of all that was great and wonderful here on Film School Rejects over the course of the last week. And in a week such as this, when we reviewed controversial and conversation-worthy films from the minds of Ayn Rand, Wes Craven and Robert Redford, it’s important to take a look back at the best of what was written. That, and we interviewed Takashi Miike, so we’ve got that going for us. Also, I have access to the traffic stats. I know that all of you did not read every one of our best articles. What’s the deal with that, beloved readers? Lets right those wrongs on a pantsless Sunday afternoon. Start with the articles listed in this compilation and work your way back. Do it now.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with a master Japanese filmmaker, a rising non-Japanese directing talent, discuss the legacy of Scream, and ask why there isn’t a modern-day Roger Corman. Takashi Miike is an incredible filmmaker, and as it turns out, a fascinating interview. Hopefully you speak Japanese, but if you don’t, the entire interview is in English. Now a staple of SXSW, Sebastian Gutierrez makes funny, sexy films that (gasp) focus on dialogue, character and cleavage. He joins me to talk about his new movie Girl Walks Into a Bar, and why making it the first film specifically made for internet distribution was the correct, crazy choice. Even though we keep hearing about a filmmaking revolution in the hands of the people, it doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Eric Vespe from Aint It Cool and Aaron Morgan from Austin join me to ask why a new workhorse/creative force hasn’t emerged with all the inexpensive cameras just lying around for the taking. Plus, Eric Vespe  continues our streak of guests named Eric (and our one-show streak of guests named Eric Vespe) by going blade to blade against Movie News Pop Quiz Champion and FSR associate editor Rob Hunter. Who will come out alive? Will it be Wes Craven‘s career? Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins isn’t just one great movie. It’s two. The first is a reverent, calm look at the brewing battle that delivers a lot of tense moments and a bit of comedy. The second is a blood bath. Literally. There are people actually bathing in blood from thousands of sliced up foes. Those pieces come together to make one incredible movie that absolutely feels like Miike channeling Kurosawa after maxing out his credit card buying karo syrup and red dye. The characters are all compelling, and they’re even more fun to watch while they’re cutting down an army like so much wheat. The action is intense enough to make the audience need to wipe sweat off its collective brow, and the movie is coming to SXSW. To celebrate that, they’ve released a brand new, stylish poster that you can only see here at FSR (until you can see it everywhere else):

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The promise of 13 Assassins is a final act that showcases some of the best, most innovative, most brutal fighting that the screen has seen. Everything leads up to it – from the introduction of the 13, to the steel-headed conversations between former allies turned enemies, to the preparation of a small town that the assassin’s leader vows to turn into a killing field. Everything leads up to it, and it delivers. It delivers with such intensity that it’s hard to breath, that it’s difficult not to stand up and cheer, that a little bad CGI doesn’t ruin the ridiculous flaming weapon that the CGI is meant to create. Fortunately, the build up to the final act is beautiful in its own right. The whole experience is brilliant and deadly. In the waning days of the samurai, an evil lord rapes young women, kills on a whim, and plans on delivering war back to the peaceful nation. Since he’s the Shogun’s younger brother, he’s above the law. However, he’s not above being killed by a band of assassins hired by a senior government official to take out the lord and leave his head somewhere in the dirt of the Japanese countryside.

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Before the deep inhale of air and rage that comes with the announcement of a remake – especially something as untouchable and classic as Harakiri (Seppuku if you’re nasty) – it’s important to point out that Takashi Miike is at the helm, and Miike is responsible for bringing Ichi the Killer, Gozu, and Audition into the world. The man is a living legend, and it might just be fascinating to see him tackle Kobayashi’s immortal tale of revenge in feudal Japan that saw a father avenging the forced harakiri suicide of his son. It actually sounds right up Miike’s dark alley. Plus, it’ll be in 3D, so audiences can have the suicide right up in their face. According to Variety, filming begins this October, and the movie should be out next year. Even if it’s a remake, Miike making another film is always good news.

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The trailer for Miike’s latest film has hit the web, and I have to admit it looks pretty damn good. The prolific director has a habit of working fast and cheap (and many of his flicks suffer for it), but Thirteen Assassins looks like a larger scale production than he’s used to.

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ff-Yatterman

If there is any kind of common thread in the work of Takashi Miike, it would have to be that they are all either just a little or, in some cases, immensely loony. Enter Yatterman, a superhero’s tale…

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samurai-header

Takashi Miike is making a samurai film. Will it suck like Sukiyaki Western Django… or like the breast-fed family in Visitor Q?

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Foreign Objects: A Look at Inside on DVD

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to highlight films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Japan!

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Asian Western Trailer Shootout

Westerns are a uniquely American type of film, are they not? So why, with that in mind, would two Asian filmmakers both go into the western shoot-em-up business at the exact same time? We explore the facts.

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