Takashi Miike Interview
When I decided to move to LA, I knew things would be crazy, but who knew it would be this nuts?! Thanks to SuperHeidi, I just had the chance to attend a roundtable interview with one of the most influential and astounding directors on the face of the planet- Takashi Miike. He was in LA for a RARE appearance promoting his film Gozu, which is set for a NY release on July 30th and a LA release on August 13th. Anyone who knows who Miike is knows how important he is to cinema here in the States- although he believes he's more influenced by us. Also, if you've ever seen any reviews for Gozu online, you know that this is his masterpiece and one of his finest works of art. The film is a combination of both the horror genre and his favorite, the Yakuza genre- He calls it "the Yakuza Horror Theater". Miike has been in the center of the bootlegged videos circle next to all of the Ringu films, with such classics as Auditon, Agitator, Ichi the Killer, Fudoh: The Next Generation, Dead or Alive, Visitor Q and many many more. Below are portions of a rare interview with the man, translated by Kana Koido.
Of course one of the first questions to come up was what Miike though the difference between Japanese and American horror was. In his opinion, Japan is very influenced by American cinema, especially by films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He believes that Japanese horror films are basically traditional ghost stories mixed with the US influence.
But then I asked him whether or not he feels Japan was more influenced than the US. He elaborated on the first question by explaining that most of the directors in Japan watched years of US horror and that this is a new generation of directors who are both influenced by US cinema and these ghost stories that were told to them by their grandmothers. So basically Japanese cinema is a mixture of both cultures- ah, we are one step closer to one world!
Someone asked a question I was dying to know, why does he think Japanese horror is catching on in America? He responded exactly how I expected, he has no freaking clue! No one in Japan does! He did elaborate a little more about Japanese film though. He talked about how Japanese horror films are very emotional, and are filled with a feeling of "hateness". They also have lower budgets and the sets are very simple- you can do so many things with a set like that, he explains.
Then the topic of the film we were there for came up, was Gozu US influenced in any way? Miike said that there was no particular film that inspired him, but it was a mixture of many ideas from over a 20 year span. Someone then asked about the mixture of the two genres- horror and Yakuza, where Miike explained that even though Gozu is a Yakuza film, its also something else for a special reason. Miike is a mastermind, and only does something if its better or different than his last piece. His goal with Gozu was to create something new. By combining the two elements he opened the film up to so many possibilities. So what's the result of this combination? The destruction of a comfortable situation, which is what made the movie so unique.
He also talked about how the movie came to be- executive producer Harumi Sone made traditional Yakuza movies and came to Miike. Miike changed it and turned it into a new Yakuza film, and then added Sone's son Hideki to the cast per his request.
But of course, one of the more important things that we needed some answers to was how he felt about the "shock" value of his films. One reporter asked if he ever felt that he had gone too far? Miike joked in response about how a lot of cast members thought he went way over the deep end. The most important thing for him was that he wanted to leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not to watch it.
But one of the most interesting responses of the evening came when Miike was asked what bothers him, and what he would never put on screen. His response- "violence in daily life... like a car accident." It saddened him how delicate we are as humans. So I had to get him to elaborate- is this why his films are so over the top, are they not meant to ever be serious? He explained how every time a movie about Yakuzas is made, they act so serious, and they hide this "reality" of life. He wants to bring out this "fun" side of serious people and have a good time, which is why they are so over the top.
When asked about his future efforts, he talked about how he is always rebounding back and forth. He likes to do something completely different every time he makes a film, and never do the same thing twice. He said his film One Missed Call is his most mainstream movie yet, and his next film, Hobnobbing the Great Wall is going to be a kids movie with spirits and creatures.
The question that pretty much summed up the interview was whether Miike was afraid of the US remaking one of his films- he replied, "Why would they want to, and more importantly, how?"
If you haven't seen a Takashi Miike film, Gozu is a great place to start with Audition as a runner up. You can get Audition at just about any video store.
Source: Bloody Disgusting