B Sound B
starring Takeshi Kitano, Kotomi Kyono, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi
written and directed by Takeshi Kitano
by Walter Chaw Midway between Fellini's 8½ and Bob Fosse's All That Jazz is Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano's Takeshis', a film that indicates with its possessive title that it belongs to both the director (Takeshi Kitano) and star ("Beat" Takeshi); acknowledging that they're one and the same (Kitano is billed as the former when he directs, the latter when he performs), they each have a function and persona unique unto themselves. The burden of that division, which Takeshi has taken on since midway through Violent Cop, is illustrated in the picture as a series of fractures that meld reality with televisual reality and filmic reality--nothing so ostentatious as Sven Nykvist and Ingmar Bergman reflected in a mirror in Persona, but going so far as to have "Beat" Takeshi, dressed as a clown, refer to Takeshi Kitano as "that asshole." The omniscience of the director is referred to often in the text as casting directors (rather, actors playing casting directors, or casting directors playing themselves) remark that Yakuza never look like Kitano (who has made something of a name for himself as a Yakuza: he's a little like the Japanese Robert De Niro)--and yet the central narrative of the picture then involves the slow evolution of the actor who looks like Kitano into Takeshi Kitano's Yakuza persona. Kitano is thus marking the difference between the devices of the director and the relatively passive objectification that is the primary definition of an actor--between the godhead inscrutable and the subject humiliated, as well as the eventual bleed-through between the roles actors assume and the mold into which perception forces them.