Brash, loudmouthed and opportunistic, Kikujiro hardly seems the ideal companion for little Masao who is determined to travel long distances to see the mother he has never met. Their excursion to the cycle races is the first of a series of adventures for the unlikely pair which soon turns out to be a whimsical journey of laughter and tears with a wide array of surprises and odd ball characters to meet along the way. Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
The lighter side of Takeshi Kitano - childhood summer memories in abundance
Vignettes of childhood memories - possibly Kitano's own childhood experiences and impressions, "Kikujiro" is not like the deep or layered deliveries Kitano has in "Fireworks" (Hana-bi) 1997, or "Sonatine" 1994. There are no cops or graphic depictions of violence. There are still some gangster-type characters, but the encounters are simple, requiring no synthesis. Kitano's familiar elements and locales are present: drawings, vignettes, seaside, temple, and angels.
It's really a loving portrayal of one little boy, Masao's, summer, spent with this seemingly eccentric retired gangster "Mister" played by Kitano. We have a pair of comic bikers, a lone van traveler, an arguing truck driver, a fun juggling couple, prankish hitchhiking gags, and a rather extensive betting session at the (bicycle) races. There are occasions for sentimental tears, for instance, when "Mister" took a side trip to visit his own mother; but play is the key operative here. Even though the child appears to be a sulky non-smiling little boy most of the time, a boy will be a boy when it comes to play and open up to lightness of the heart.
If you're the hurrying kind, this film may not be for you. The film is at its own flow and pace. It's Masao's summer vacation adventures, and he's not in a hurry to go home. Joe Hisaishi's theme music for "Kikujiro" certainly is catchy and the score gave Kitano's film its rhythm and accents along this unlikely pair's journey - a grown man, who's become childlike once more while escorting Masao on his quest to fulfill the dream of seeing his mother. Does it matter whether Masao sees his mother or not? He gains a friend, Kikujiro.
Kudos to Sony Pictures Classics for their film distribution selections! At the recent Bravo cable channel's IFC (Independent Film Channel) tenth Gotham Awards, Catherine Deneuve presented the Industry Lifetime Achievement Award to the trio: Tom Bernard, Marcie Bloom, Michael Barker. It was noted: "This award is being created specifically for this year's ceremony to honor the trio for their 20 years of service as champions of independent filmmakers." Besides the theme from Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown", Joe Hisaishi's music from "Kikujiro" was mostly used during the montage of the film clips. Films the trio has co-produced include the popular 1999 Tom Tykwer's "Run Lola Run" (German), Pedro Almodovar's 1999 triumph "All About My Mother" (Spanish), the Brazilian gem in 1998 "Central Station", Hal Hartley's 1997 saga "Henry Fool", John Sayles' 1996 hit "Lone Star", the 1995 French surprise "The City of Lost Children", and as far back as 1971 Vittorio De Sica's "The Garden of the Finzi-Contini".
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