Thursday, July 03, 2008

Japan Cuts & NYAFF: Sukiyaki Western Django

After Kurosawa films inspired westerns like The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars, it makes a certain amount of twisted logic to re-import the spaghetti western back into Japan. Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django (trailer here) is that film. Borrowing from Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbuccio, and indirectly Kurosawa, Miike recasts Yojimbo in feudal Japan, using what look like the costumes for a western-themed stage show meant to star Liberace. Sukiyaki opens theatrically in late August, leaving me time to fully analyze its nuances for a full review later. However, it plays as part of NYAFF and Japan Cuts this Saturday, so here are some answers to questions you might ask to get a sense of whether you will enjoy it.

Q: Is this action-oriented or more like those moody revisionist westerns?
A: Basically, Miike cranks up the action somewhere between a cartoon and a video game.

Q: Is it violent?
A: If you mean do characters literally blow holes through each other big enough to see through, then yes.

Q: Is Quentin Tarantino annoying as all get-out in his small supporting role?
A: Totally.

Q: Is there an attractive love interest?
A: Yep, played by Yoshino Kimura.

Q: Is it subtitled?
A: No, everyone speaks an unnatural sounding, phonetic English. An occasional subtitle might have helped.

Q: Does stuff fly through the air a lot?
A: That would be a hyper-kinetic yes.

Q: Did I enjoy it?
A: Overall yes, but the film has a bit of a mean streak at times that slightly dampens my enthusiasm.

You were probably already looking forward to this film if the name Takashi Miike means anything to you. The brief write-up above should also give you a good idea if this film is for you. It plays at the Japan Society Saturday night, so have fun.