Sunday, June 12, 2011

OUTRAGE


Takeshi Kitano, 2010
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kun Junimura, Soichiro Kitamura, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase

Outrage was immensely frustrating, rage-filled, nihilistic and... funny. I love Takeshi Kitano and, partly because I tried to go in to Outrage with no expectations, I was delighted by this film. I was a little pissed off when the closing credits began to roll, which usually means that a film surprises me or goes in a different direction than I thought it would. After having thought about it for a few days, I really did like it. It's part of Kitano's continued meditation on the pointlessness of violence and the fickle culture of organized crime.

Like many yakuza films, it's kind of hard to keep everyone straight at first. No one smiles, they all wear fancy black suits, and no one has much of a personality for the first 45 or so minutes of the film. Otomo (Takeshi Kitano) is the head of a group of yakuza who are under Boss Ikemoto's (Jun Kunimura) jurisdiction. Ikemoto, in turn, works for the Chairman (Soichiro Kitamura) of the Sanno-kai family. The Chairman, for whatever reason, stirs the pot between his underbosses, encouraging them to back-stab and later kill one another, promising secret allegiance to each of them in turn.

Ikemoto and his sworn brother Boss Murase (Renji Ishibashi) begin fighting under the Chairman's suggestion, which results in a full scale gang war. What starts out as a small misunderstanding snowballs into monetary apologies, chopped off fingers, torture, murder, and warfare. Otomo reaches new heights of insanity and comes very close to taking over the turf. His right hand man, Mizuno, is equally nuts and is probably the only character who openly smiles or laughs throughout the film.

Though Outrage is carefully paced -- sometimes erring on the slow side of things -- it's often very creatively violent. It is Kitano's first yazuka film in a decade, since Brothers, and was successful enough that it opened at Cannes and competed for the Palm d'Or (which ultimately went to Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives). Outrage includes a newer group of actors than Kitano usually works with, though they all give solid performances. Jun Kunimura, whom I love, looks a bit aged, which broke my heart a little. So did Kitano, though. I guess everyone has to get old at some point. That doesn't mean they can't still kick a lot of ass.

If you're afraid of the dentist, please avoid this film. Actually, if you have any problem with oral or auditory trauma, stay away. Otherwise, it comes highly recommended. So far there's only a region 3 DVD, but seek it out as soon as possible.

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