Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kitano gundan

In Tokyo for a couple of weeks, with a few sessions of interviews going on for future DVDs. Today was a visit to Office Kitano and a pair of interviews with actors whose careers started with Takeshi's first couple of films as a director, but who have remained close to Kitano since them, while forging careers outside of the world of Office K.

First up was Makoto Ashikawa, who started on some of Takeshi's TV shows in the late 80s and graduated to a breakthrough role in Violent Cop, playing Kikuchi, the newbie partner of Takeshi's unstable titular character, Azuma. Ashikawa talked a lot about Kitano's directorial process, how he was cast as the character, and told some funny stories about the shoot. In addition to this film, he also appears in Kitano's Boiling Point, Kids Return, Hana-bi, Zatoichi and Takeshis', all of which (except Zatoichi) will be released by BCI Eclipse at some point in the future.

Second in line, but only chronologically, was Yurei Yanagi, who also became a regular on Takeshi's TV shows—and a well-regarded member of Beat's comedy team, called the "Takeshi Gundan"—before gaining his debut as an actor with the lead role in Boiling Point, playing Masaki, the clueless amateur baseball player and gas station attendant whose thoughtless punch at a yakuza brings unforeseen consequences to him and his friends. Yanagi also talked about how he got to work for Kitano, as well as his strange performance in the film, how the movie, and others shortly thereafter, changed his career, and what it was like to work with directors ranging from Hideo Nakata (in both Ring films, among others) to Shinji Aoyama. Yanagi is actually a pretty familiar face to foreign viewers, having appeared in things like Sabu's Dangan Runner and Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on V-cinema movies, as well as three other films by Kitano (Getting Any?, Hana-bi and his latest, Achilles and the Tortoise).

Many more interviews are planned with Office Kitano for future DVD releases, as well, and if they all go as smoothly and as well as these two, I'll be a happy man.

Next week brings some interviews related to the final two films by Hiroshi Teshigahara. Watch this space for more updates.


Blogger SPM said...

sounds like a super gig you got there. good news all around. i'm a fan of Kitano's work and am glad "Getting Any" is getting released.

I look forward to your interviews.

6:14 AM  

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