Kubi / 首 (2023) dir. Takeshi Kitano

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Guro Taku
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Kubi / 首 (2023) dir. Takeshi Kitano

Post by Guro Taku »

Had no idea this was in the works but it'll have its world premiere this month at Cannes and then release in Japan in autumn. Kitano adapts his own 2019 novel of the same title about the assassination of Nobunaga Oda in 1582. Looks like it had a decent budget and I'm certainly more interested in this than, say, OUTRAGE 4 or another meta comedy.

Homepage & Trailer: https://movies.kadokawa.co.jp/kubi/

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Guro Taku
King of Beggars
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Re: Kubi / 首 (2023) dir. Takeshi Kitano

Post by Guro Taku »

This comes out November 23rd in Japan but I was lucky enough to get to see it yesterday. It's an entertaining film which, judging by the conversations I overheard afterwards, may challenge Western audiences with the sheer number of characters and allegiances you have to keep straight. I will gladly accept corrections from those more familiar with Japanese society than myself but simply going by how ubiquitous this story is in popular culture, the assassination/death of Nobunaga Oda kind of has to be something that the average Japanese watcher would be intimately familiar with. A pivotal historical moment, coming after more than 100 years of civil war, where everyone knows that it happened but nobody seems to quite agree on the how and/or why of it. The film actually holds the audience's hand more than I expected, going so far as to introduce each relevant character via on-screen text, but even so it'll be tough for anyone who's not at least read up on the events and time period on Wikipedia beforehand to keep track of everyone and why who does what to whom. Anyway, even with that hurdle in the way, the film still works very well for all of its 130 minute runtime thanks to Kitano's trademark and much appreciated ability to break up serious proceedings with deadpan black humor. The first example in this film comes after Nobunaga Oda (Ryo Kase) makes Murashige Araki (Kenichi Endo) suck candy off a sword and then proceeds to tongue his bleeding mouth. "As someone who grew up in a rural village, I find this behaviour kind of troubling." Cracked up all 400 people in the sold out theater and it wouldn't be the last time. Kitano's Hideyoshi Hashiba absolutely is a comedic relief character despite maybe being the most ruthless motherfucker in the whole film. Meaning, obviously, that Kitano is Kitano in a Kitano film. Oh, that thing about Nobunaga sucking Murashige's bloody mouth? Yes, this film has a lot of gay elements. Homosexuality among samurai is a historic fact but it's not something you regularily see featured in jidaigeki. So seeing Nobunaga Oda actually ejaculating in another man's ass before asking famed (and historically well documented) black samurai Yasuke (Jun Soejima) for a massage may surprise some viewers. It's certaily an angle from which I personally haven't seen this particular event examined before. Between all the homosexual romance, graphic gay sex and a black samurai, I hope there'll be at least one KITANO IS WOKE NOW meltdown from someone for my amusement. Especially since it's Yasuke who ultimately beheads Nobunaga after calling him a "yellow bastard". What the film has more of than sex and backstabbing intrigue is violence. It starts with the kanji of the title (which translates to "head" or "neck") getting "beheaded" and then cuts to crabs crawling out of the neck stump of a beheaded warrior lying in a river. To say this is a violent film would be kind of an understatement. Which brings me to one of the few things I disliked: CGI blood and CGI beheadings. Not comically terrible like in your average DTV schlock but they're still too noticeable and somehow even more jarring in a period film like this. This was clearly not a cheap production and I wish they'd gone the extra mile and handled those handful of scenes practically or just opted not to show the actual act. Other than that I can't really think of any negative things to say. The acting is excellent across the board, CGI blood nonsense aside, the production values are high and there's enough action, dark humor, intrigue and drama to make you not notice the 130 minute running time. Just maybe brush up on or familiarize yourself with the the historical background first to get the most out of the film.
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HungFist
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Re: Kubi / 首 (2023) dir. Takeshi Kitano

Post by HungFist »

Glad to hear it's good, but sad to hear about the CGI. Well, not that sad really... because I stopped caring about new Japanese cinema years ago. I flew to Tokyo a few weeks ago to watch Sonatine and Violent Cop in theater, but this new one I'm not sure if I even bother to watch in the local theater...
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