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Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike Paperback – June 24, 2006
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About the Author
Tom Mes is the founder and co-editor of Midnight Eye, the worlds leading website on contemporary Japanese cinema. An acknowledged expert on the work of Takashi Miike, his writing on the director has been published in the US, UK and Russia. Toms other books include Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto (FAB) and The Midnight Eye Guide to Japanese Cinema.
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Top customer reviews
For starters, the book is simply beautiful. The quality of the book is top-notch and strongly bound, with a beautiful cover and high resolution pictures in both color and black and white.
The reason I've only read about half of it is because while I am familiar with several of Miike's films (Ichi the Killer, Audition, Gozu, etc.), I haven't seen many of the films that are discussed in great detail in the book. Rather than spoil the films for myself, I have chosen not to read the essays on these films until I have seen them.
As for what I have read, it's all really good stuff. Interviews, essays on the films that are very well written and interesting and even excerpts of Miike's production diary for Ichi the Killer, translated from Japanese for our reading pleasure. Takashi Miike goes from being an enigmatic figure to a more complicated, exciting and important person in the world of today's cinema.
What impressed me the most about this book is the author's obvious appreciation for the subject and the fact that you can tell that some serious work went into making this must-own, exhaustively researched reference guide. Tom Mes deserves kudos for a job well done.
Recommended for fans of Japanese cinema and a must-own for appreciators of Miike's oeuvre. I think all we need now is a book of this caliber to be completed for Takeshi Kitano.
Author Tom Mes dispenses with theories of genre and the intricacies of auteur theory (which would no doubt be to the directors approval) and chooses, via textual analysis, to map out the thematic universe that Miike has constructed in his films. Naturally this suggests authorship of some kind, and Mes acknowledges Miike as an artist without getting carried away rhetorically. The thematic network is mapped out in chronological terms, meaning one can read it straight through, or dip in, for reference purposes. Miike has largely worked in an industrial context in which is films are pre-written, pre-budgeted and sometimes pre-cast, but despite this, Mes argues that Miike is still able to weave personal concerns into the generically divergent material.
Subsequently the chapter on themes is indispensable and Mes goes on to identify rootlessness, the outcast, the search for happiness, nostalgia, the family unit and violence as the recurring themes in his work. It is true that these motifs re-occur in a remarkable number of his films, and this goes hand in hand with a distinctive visual style that places great emphasis on montage sequences, interesting colour palettes, and a penchant for staggering visual exaggeration. The director also uses a repertoire of actors and technicians, and one begins to see the indelible print of an author. Fortunately this book is not a defence of Miike's ultra-violent and transgressive cinema, and doesn't attempt to raise Miike's cultural standing. Mes, along with Jasper Sharp runs the website Midnight Eye, which is devoted to New Japanese Cinema, and along with this book is the first port of call on the amazing cinematic world of Takashi Miike.
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Western audiences labored in blissful ignorance of the career of Takashi Miike for years.Read more