Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Saturday, July 5th, I saw this, and you didn't:

That's because you probably live in Bat Country, and the people at First Look Internation don't trust your taste. So write them here, and let them know you want to see this movie. I'll even provide you with a template for you to send them:

Dear First Look International,

Even though I live in Bat Country, I have good - no, great - taste in movies. Therefore, I want to see Sukiyaki Western Django. And I swear to God, I won't go during the matinee. No! I'll go during the evening when tickets are full price! Honest! So please send it to my neck of the woods.

Thank you for your time in this matter.


Your Name Here

So what's it about? Come on, man! It's a Spaghetti Western, set in Japan, directed by Takashi Miike! What more do you want!?!

Fine. Here's the description from the New York Asian Film Fest site:

A nameless gunman (Hideaki Ito) rides into Yuta, Nebada, a dusty flyspeck of a town that’s caught in the middle of a gang war between the Heiki (in red, and led by hot-headed madman, Koichi Sato) and the Genji (in cool white, led by baby-faced bad boy, Yusuke Iseya). Setting the two gangs against each other and hoping he can pick up the cash left on the table after they wipe each other out, our hero soon finds things are a bit more complicated than he assumed. There’s the mother of a half-Genji, half-Heiki kid, played by Yoshino Kimura (FINE, TOTALLY FINE)who is out for revenge against the Heiki; her mother, who runs the local general store and who is secretly a legendary gunslinger herself (played by Kaori Momoi, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA), an indestructible sheriff and more mind-bending, cartoonish ultra-violence than you thought could ever possibly exist, all scored to a thundering, electrifying spaghetti western soundtrack.

Speaking a “Hooked on Phonics” version of English, the cast wades into this cross-cultural mash-up with guns blazing, slaughtering anything that moves and taking no prisoners in this off the hook Western that manages to load a missile with everything cool about samurai movies, westerns, spaghetti westerns and Takashi Miike movies and launch it into your eyes.
How could you NOT want to see this? There's no way! It's opening here in the big city in a month, and First Look is a bit antsy on a wider release. So you need to tell them you want to see it.

Now, it's not Ichi the Killer violent/bloody. But it's bloodier than your typical Spaghetti Western. And all the tropes are there: The warring gangs, the Romeo & Juliet love story, the nameless gun slinger, the morally ambiguous sheriff, and so on. Miike steals from Leone's trilogy (The Good the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistfull of Dollars, A Few Dollars More) freely, and it works, because they're sly thefts, nothing too obvious.

Quentin Tarantino does act in this. He's in the opening scene, and while he does well here, he's better in later scenes stuck in a steampunk wheelchair and covered on oldman latex. Miike manages to get some real acting out of Tarantino in these later scenes, when he seems to focus more on emotional reactions than the earlier cool grandstanding.

But my favorite character is Kaori Momoi's Ruriko, the secret gunslinger. There's nothing like an older woman slinging iron with the best of them. She steals the show for several reasons, one of which is the surprise of an older woman spotlighted in a Japanese movie.

So go and First Look you want to see this. Do it now. Because good movies are worth your time and effort, and this, my friends, is a great movie.