Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kitano Takeshi vs. Monster X, as refereed by Kawasaki Minoru

For a while now there have been vague mentions here and there of Kitano Takeshi's involvement in Kawasaki Minoru's latest affectionate parody "Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit!" (Girara no Gyakushu: Towako Samitto Kiki Ippatsu), in which third-rate kaiju Guilala lays siege to the conference of world leaders actually taking place in Hokkaido's Toyako this July. Now I can reveal at last that the Beat will be the lynchpin of the film's climax as Japan's saviour "Takemajin" (that's a concept sketch on the left), so don't rule out the possibility of this being his way of taking the piss out of Matsumoto Hitoshi's "Dainipponjin". It'll be his first appearance in a film other than his own since Sai Yoichi's "Blood and Bone" and the documentary "Arakimentary".

Takemajin is a deity that has protected the Japanese people since time began. He is brought to life by their pleas, whereupon he transforms from a 50cm statue into a 50 metre-tall, 10,000-tonne giant. When he powers up, his face changes.

Sound familiar? Shh, nobody tell Kadokawa Pictures.

Kawasaki has drawn on the talents of his frequent collaborators to bring Takemajin to life, namely manga artist Ebihara Yu ("Calamari Wrestler") for designing the character and Tsuboi Koichi ("Calamari Wrestler", "Executive Koala", "Crab Goalkeeper") for putting the costume together. He explained his reasons for casting Kitano thusly:

"In the past we've seen Takeshi-san do his costumed schtick as 'Takechan-man', 'Red and White Mask' and for the 'Trans America Ultra Quiz', and he's a guy who has an unsurpassed fondness for Japan's traditional art of costumery. Right now, at a time when Japan's distinctive man-in-a-suit monster films are in danger of disappearing, he's the only guy who can save this genre. I can say without a doubt that thanks to Takeshi-san, this'll be a film that'll make people say "Now this is a monster film that Japan can be proud of!"

"Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit!" opens in Japan this July, and the makers promise "a shock greater than the ending of Kurosawa Akira's 'Sanjuro'". Hopefully it'll be at least as cool as its old school poster. (source: Cinematopics)

Update: A terrifying glimpse of Guilala courtesy of Jason Gray.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eight screens for "Yasukuni", more to follow

Hopefully this will be the final word on the Yasukuni documentary controversy: Cinema Cafe have announced that eight cinemas in seven cities will definitely be going ahead with screening the unexpurgated version of Li Ying's cause celebre, meaning shomin (plebs) such as myself will at last be granted the privilege formerly afforded exclusively to politicians, journalists and right-wing activists.

Tokyo: Shibuya Cine Amuse, May 3rd-9th
Tokyo: Cine Qua Non Yurakucho 1-chome, from May 10th
Osaka: Dainana Geijutsu Gekijo, from May 10th
Hiroshima: Hiroshima Cine Twin Shintenchi, from May 24th
Kyoto: Kyoto Cinema, from June 7th
Niigata: Cine Wind, from June 7th
Gunma: Cinematheque Takasaki, from July 12th
Okinawa: Sakurazaka Gekijo, from July 12th

And that's not all - the following 15 cinemas are currently investigating the possibility of working the doco into their schedules:

Cinema Angelica, Shibuya
Metro Gekijo, Fukui
Cineterrie Tenjin, Fukuoka
Yamagata Forum
Fukushima Forum
Morioka Forum
Hachinohe Forum
Cinema Taurus, Tomakomai
Cine Tokachi, Niigata
Cinema Iris, Hakodate
Ichinoseki Cine Plaza, Iwate
Tokamachi Cinema Paradise, Niigata
Teatoru Tokuyama, Yamaguchi
Atago Gekijo, Kochi
Miyazaki Kinemakan

Regardless of concerns regarding the film's bias and the director's motivations (especially some troubling doubts raised by Aceface in the comments section of Jason Gray's blog), at least now it looks as though we will be allowed to make up our own minds. For me, the most galling thing about this whole kerfuffle is the arrogance of the gatekeepers - both elected and self-appointed - who feel they deserve the right to pass judgement on behalf and instead of the general public.