The award-winning art film Hana-Bi, the stoic gangster elegy Sonatine, the surfer romance A Scene at the Sea, the absurdist comedy Getting Any?, the entertainment samurai spectacle Zatoichi-very different films made under one name Kitano Takeshi. Who is this varied and sometimes elusive Kitano Takeshi? What relationship does he have to Beat Takeshi, the name he also uses as an actor and immensely popular media personality in Japan? Is he an artistic auteur in the traditional sense, offering a singular vision easily identifiable in all his work, or a new kind of star who manages multiples identities, strategically changing them from film to film and situation to situation? This book will explore these issues of auteurship and stardom in the films of Kitano Takeshi especially as they relate to problems of personal and national identity in a Japan confronting an age of globalization. Starting in his early days as one side of a stand-up comedy duo, Kitano has used pairs throughout his films to deftly play out a liminal space between cinema and television, traditional and modern, Japan and the world. Combining a detailed account of the situation in Japanese film and criticism with unique close analyses of Kitano's films from Violent Cop to Takeshis, the author, a renowned expert on Japanese cinema who himself participated in the debates about Kitano in Japan, relates the director to issues of contemporary cinema, Japanese national identity, and globalism.
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