September 2, 2005

Japan’s Kitano surprises Venice with wacky new film

By Clara Ferreira-Marques

VENICE (Reuters) - Japanese cult director Takeshi Kitano
baffled and enthralled Venice on Friday with the premiere of
"Takeshis,"' a surreal send-up of his eclectic career which
weaves together the lives of a TV celebrity and his lookalike.

The surprise addition to a list of 19 films vying for the
Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion prize is a bewildering
jaunt from smoky mah-jong parlors and noodle bars to showdowns
between gun-slinging yakuza gangsters.

Both the TV personality -- "Beat" Takeshi, the name he
takes as an actor -- and the frustrated store attendant
doppelganger, Takeshi Kitano, are played by the actor-director

Cinema-goers are likely to be thrown off by Kitano's
multiple personas and emerge confused from what the director
himself describes as "a multi-layered Baumkuchen cake." But, he
says with a smile, that is beside the point.

"I want the spectators to feel like they are in another
dimension of reality. I don't want my audience to understand
every detail," said Kitano, who won the Golden Lion in 1997 for
his film "Hana-Bi," or "Fireworks."

"It's like one of my characters says, 'don't think too
much, it's just a film'," he told Reuters.

The film borrows heavily from Kitano's gangster characters
and scenes in earlier movies, from his debut "Violent Cop" to
"Zatoichi," which won the Venice Silver Lion in 2003.

But this time, the bitter comedy is stronger than his
customary bursts of violence.

Kitano says he hoped to use the film to close off the type
of cinema that has made the prolific artist a cult name outside
Japan, where he remains best known for his TV work.

"It is a funeral for the genres that I explored over the
past dozen movies. In a sense, it is the last of a series," he
said. "In Japanese, the title sounds like 'Takeshi's funeral'."

Now, the man who got his break as part of comedy duo "Two
Beat," says he wants to have a go at the classics.

"After all, cinema has been around for more than a century.
There are many great masters," said Kitano. "I feel like doing
a very classical movie now, to challenge the giants."