Rant: Land Of The Rising Suns

The popularity of the "Kill Bill" films has directed a curious and hungry American public to the Far East. Without question, we are coming under the influence of Asian cinema and this can only be a good thing. Hollywood is far too greedy and politicized. What we have today is an openly elitist, leftist and mouthy upper caste of actors, rolling in millions given to them by tasteless legions flocking to catch the latest Reese Witherspoon merde.

Meanwhile in Japan, they are taking chances. I have yet to see a recent Japanese film which cannot be described as daring and unconventional. "The Ring", originally made in Japan, then remade in Korea, was given a third, Western treatment by director Gore Verbinski. It was an enormous success which helped cement the career of actress Naomi Watts. Takashi Shimizu's "Ju:On" has been remade under his direction for Western consumption. Titled "The Grudge," it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and I'm hopeful that even she won't be able to ruin it.

Yes, I'm turning into a total film snob and I'm also being too hard on the industry. IMHO, We have our modern ingenues: Todd Solondz, P.T. Anderson, Tarantino, Hal Hartley (Sorry kids, Michael Moore doesn't count. Until he makes a film that's daring enough to expose the Democrats as well, he's just an obese, male Leni Riefenstahl). But otherwise, there's a serious lack of creativity in US film. The release of a sequel to "Charlie's Angels" is proof of that. Surely we can do better. And though it may be in the name of the almighty dollar, I think a new era is approaching in Western cinema, one with a decidely Asian influence.

I recently saw the most disgusting, offensive, disturbing, hysterical and honest film I have ever seen. It's not terribly appealing and almost the entirely film is completely graphic in content. It's called "Visitor Q" and is directed by Takashi Miike. The film is a commentary on Japanese society as told through a very extreme reality show. Having also recently seen Miike's "Audition", IMHO, no one is pushing the boundaries of filmmaking quite like Takashi Miike, save for his French contemporary, Gaspar Noe. That said, when is the last time an American film disgusted you, offended you, yet made you laugh as you were absorbed by it's unfortunate, pathetic realism? Pay attention to Takashi Miike. He is the future.

For starters, here's a link to a great interview with another Japanese director the West is to soon be acquainted with, Ryuhei Kitamura. If you haven't seen any of his work, I highly recommend "Versus" and "Azumi." Kitamura is directing the final, yes, final, Godzilla film. They're killing off the big boy, once and for all. Sources tell me he'll meet his end in an epic battle with Madeleine Albright's brasierre. Godzilla is a mammoth enterprise in Japan and the fact that Kitamura was chosen to direct the last installation tells you alot. He says that upon finishing the film, he will be moving to America as he wants a new challenge. On that statement alone, US cinema is already better off.

If you want to see a great website which discusses Japanese cinema, check out the website "Midnight Eye" in my "culture/counter-culture" links.