Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More

The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!

Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:

“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”

Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019
Venues:
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London

and

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London

See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.

What are the films?

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A Preview of BATSU FILM FESTIVAL 2018 (AUGUST 03-05)

Here’s a brand new festival for North America that is totally dedicated to Japanese films. It’s called the BATSU FILM FESTIVAL and it runs from August 03rd to 05th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Denver Colorado. It’s aim is to go beyond the films of familiar names that tend to make the rounds on the festival circuit and get releases and expose the hidden talents in the Japanese film industry. With this mission, the festival programmer has dived into indie films as well as commercial features that weren’t given a wide distribution or shown outside of the bigger festivals to bring audiences in Denver a great selection of films all in one weekend in August.

There are many highlights amongst the 12 features and 4 shorts that have been selected and I have trailers for them all and links to reviews. I have watched (and reviewed) some but haven’t published any info yet so check out the notes above the trailers for some thoughts. As always, click on the titles to be taken to the festival page to see more info:

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Getting Any? みんな~やってるか! (1995) Dir: Takeshi Kitano

Getting Any?   Getting Any Film Poster

みんな~やってるか!Minna~ Yatteru ka

Running Time: 108 mins.

Release Date: February 11th, 1995

Director:  Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano (Screenplay),

Starring: Dankan, Moeko Ezawa, Takeshi Kitano, Susumu Terajima, Kanji Tsuda, Yurei Yanagi, Ren Osugi, Taka Guadalcanal, Hakuryu, Yojin Hino, Yoneko Matsukane,

IMDB Website

Takeshi Kitano the director and Beat Takeshi the performer meet together in a manic film about a young man’s increasingly desperate attempt to get laid which becomes a series of prurient slapstick sketches that push the boundaries of good taste.

Getting Any Film Image

The story follows middle-aged layabout Asao (Dankan). His one and only goal in life is to have sex. To do this, he embarks upon a series of misadventures ranging from buying a car to impress a woman enough for car sex to becoming an actor to get a seat in first class on a jet because, in his narrow-minded world, he thinks sex is one of the services on offer from air-hostesses. His antics get bigger and bolder and wackier the more desperate he becomes. Pretty soon they involve armed robbery, becoming the next Zatoichi in a movie production, a yakuza hitman, and an invisible man and worse because of crazy scientific experiments.

Getting Any? uses an episodic structure to launch a scattershot satire of Japanese society and popular culture through the lens of Kitano’s unique sense of humour which he takes to extremes in terms of the inanity and stupidity. Every situation start off at some reasonable level of idiocy initiated by Asao before becoming a series of bizarre, over the top and absurd slapstick gags at the expense of the central character and a cast ranging from serious actors to Kitano’s army of fans, his Gundan who appear in many of his films and TV shows, all of whom throw themselves into the skits with gusto. Even Kitano shows up to take part.

Kitano finds comedy in every situation thanks to Asao being of a character with a one-track mind with a brain straight out of dullstown. This leads to tremendous sight gags especially in the first part of the film. In order to get money Asao figures he needs to rob a bank. So he needs a gun. Who has guns? Cops. Asao imagines stealing a gun and getting blown away. When he acquires a gun, one of his targets is a bank run by cops.

As the film ticks along, his imagination gets only slightly bigger but his luck get much better. Seeing Asao graduate from being a bit-part player stuck full of arrows in a samurai movie to playing Zatoichi by way of accidentally getting the original actor to almost drown is hilarious and then taken to the next level as the central fool plays the blind swordsman by closing his eyes and engaging in physical slapstick such as dousing people with manure and much more dangerous liquids while in the presence of a naked flame.

Kitano managed to work in references to and mock films as diverse as Ghostbusters, Branded to Kill, Ultraman, Mothra, Zatoichi, Michael Jackson’s song Beat It and Akira Kurosawa as Asao travels across Tokyo and gets into misadventures. Having a knowledge of Japanese pop-culture adds a lot of depth to the gags and makes them funnier, the laughs last longer, but towards the end of the film, many of them have a habit of going on way too long (especially the tokusatsu stuff), past the point where the joke is funny. This was deliberate on Kitano’s part since he made the n’est plus ultra of bad jokes to scandalise the Japanese entertainment industry and also to destroy his own career.

This a film with which some Japanese fans of Kitano feel he tried committing suicide as public figure since he went to such great lengths to be absurd audiences wondered if he had lost the plot. It was filmed at a time when he was at the height of his fame and fortune in Japan as Beat Takeshi, the comedian, radio star, writer and so forth but not taken seriously as Takeshi Kitano, the film director and serious actor. With so many TV shows, books, and other projects he was working on and an eventful private life to say the least, he was finding it difficult to manage the stress of fame and public interest as well as his excessive work and partying. This was compounded by the box-office failure of the 1993 gangster film Sonatine, which he personally saw as his first major artistic achievement as a director. With fame and pressure mounting, he let the comedian, Beat Takeshi tear up the screen with this film and the results are scandalous. Further adding to the dramatic context of the film, Kitano finished production on it before the motor-scooter accident which left the right side of his face paralysed. No wonder some interpret Getting Any​? as something he made unconsciously to help him deal with his career frustrations and anxiety over his fame as well as being a rebel yell against an industry not taking him seriously. 

Getting Any? may have been made out of frustration but there is enough comedy and shock value and bizarre prurient humour here to justify viewing it. It is easy to imagine fans at the time being scandalised by some of the scenes packed full of nudity and violence but also there’s a sense of dangerousness and liberation in seeing people gleefully engaging in the anarchy on screen. Kitano is pushing back against good taste and does so effectively.

Getting Any Film Image 2

Kitano leads actors and his Gundan who he worked with in previous films astray as everyone throws themselves into this nonsense. It is fun seeing the likes of Yurei Yanagi, Susumu Terajima, and Ren Osugi from Boiling Point and Sonatine reprise roles as gangsters and weirdos who only show up to get bumped off or take part in sight gags based on societal quirks and erotic games that will lead to audience-members doing spit takes. Leading the cast is Dankan who plays Asao with a vacant gaze perfect for a man so shallow he is unable to see where his disastrous schemes go wrong and why women don’t like him. He would come off as a sexual predator of the worst kind if he wasn’t so inept at everything he put his hand to and Kitano didn’t keep slapping him in stupid situations that break off his ardour or totally subvert it.

Getting Any? is a solid comedy and interesting to engaging with when you consider this as Kitano’s mid-career crisis film. We should be glad he survived it and his accident because he went on to make even more films and gain a serious following in Japan as an auteur and we are now able to watch his films get re-released in wonderful 4K and enjoy his idiosyncratic sense of humour and direction. Even if it doesn’t always work, most of it is amusing to watch and a great time-capsule of pop-culture hits from the 80s and 90s.

Third Window Films continue to release the newly restored films of Takeshi Kitano on sparkly blu-ray in the UK with Getting Any?. Prior to this release, it was only available in the UK via Second Sight Films and their Kitano box-set. The Third Window Films release is a massive improvement in terms of visuals and sound and the subtitles have been given a unique UK spin with money translated from yen to pounds and there’s an interesting interview with Kitano.

Getting Any? みんな~やってるか! (1995) Dir: Takeshi Kitano is erotic nonsense of the highest order and presented perfectly here so if you have to get any version, then this is the one.

This review was originally written for VCinema.

Third Window Films Release Takeshi Kitano’s “Getting Any?” on October 16th

Third Window Films continue to release the newly restored films of Takeshi Kitano on sparkly blu-ray in the UK with Getting Any? on October 16th.

I remember watching this film for the first time around five years ago and just being stunned at how monumentally unfunny it was after the Ghostbusters sketch. It’s undisciplined and tries to do too much, the humour hasn’t dated well and there’s little that’s funny to begin with. But then maybe that’s the point and there’s a lot more going on than I realised:

In an interview Kitano actually draws parallels to Kurosawa, who, in the hindsight of Kitano, should have made a total bullshit film, instead of attempting suicide after “Dodes Kaden”. To Kitano, “‘Getting Any?’ is a beautiful disastrous failure and “suicide”.

Henrik Sylow (kitanotakeshi.com)

Whatever, of you’re a completionist or adventurous this is definitely for you. The material covers so much since it’s a send-up of the Japanese film industry and it certainly is memorable. Perhaps, after living in Japan, I might find more elements of this funny. It certainly has a good cast with Kitano leading familiar actors like Yurei Yanagi and Susumu Terajima astray and both Dankan and Ren Osugi appeared in the Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie Eyes of the Spider!

Getting Any Film Image

Here are the details:

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Metrograph in New York to Screen Takeshi Kitano Movies throughout November

People in New York have a nice winter treat since Metrograph will play host to a series of movies by the genius that is Takeshi Kitano. This event will see most of his major works screened on 35mm prints from November 17th to November 25th. It features highlights such as Sonatine, Boiling Point, A Scene at the Sea and Kids Return. There’s also one of his weaker efforts, Getting Any?, a comedy that wears out its welcome after 30 minutes… Otherwise, this is a stellar selection of films.

Kikujiro Takeshi Kitano Masao Yusuke Sekiguchi
Kikujiro Takeshi Kitano Masao Yusuke Sekiguchi

Continue reading “Metrograph in New York to Screen Takeshi Kitano Movies throughout November”