In the first scenes/credits of this movie, the Takeshi Kitano's stunt doll is submitted to some medical examinations. When the results are shown on the technicians' screens, the patient name constantly changes from result to result. The names refer to some Masters of the Japanese Cinema and their birth/death dates. See more »
I can see why some people would hate this movie, but there are a lot of people who shouldn't miss it. I will argue that it is immensely funnier and more meaningful if the viewer: 1.) Has seen several of Takeshi's other films (at least one or two gangster ones, Kikujiro no Natsu, and Zatoichi for good measure)
2.) Is familiar with classic Japanese cinema, particularly the works of Yasujiro Ozu...but samurai and horror films are skewered here, too, so if they're more your bag, you'll still have something to relate to.
Bonus enjoyment if the viewer: 3.) Has some knowledge of Japanese and can catch the nuances that subtitles can't capture--the subtitles are indeed serviceable, and my Japanese isn't good enough to understand it without them, but some of the ritual Japanese expressions I caught were uproarious in certain contexts in the film
and 4.) Has spent some time in Japan. I feel like Japanese society, ritualistic conventions, and mannerisms are lampooned often in the film, and any Westerner who is often confused or frustrated by them may find this film a relief and a delight.
All in all, though, what is most necessary is an open mind. This film does not have a very meaningful ending, and even makes fun of the loose ends it leaves undone. It was made for the sake of comedy and is not plot or character-driven, so don't expect Hana-bi. If you're looking for a send-up of Japanese cinema (including the director's own works) and some completely ridiculous, from-way-out-in-left-field humor, check out Glory to the Filmmaker. Some of the gags do fall painfully flat, but even some of the really silly stuff made me laugh harder than I have at any other film in quite a while. Some of the film parodies are pretty subtle and understated, where you could *almost* take them seriously if they weren't in the context of such a ridiculous film, but since the movie makes it clear from the start that everything's a joke, you'll find yourself laughing out loud at the little things that are deliberately askew in them. The narrator is wonderful, too, and is responsible for a good portion of the laughs in the film. Personally I found this more accessible and far more enjoyable than Takeshis', perhaps because unlike that film, the director's intentions are clear here from the start: he's just doing it for the laughs.
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