He’s probably the most infamous Japanese filmmaker of all time, the man who regularly trades in screen rape, ultraviolence, and mutilation/torture. But he is also undoubtedly very interesting, a man interested in genres — he beat Tarantino to the post-modern Django film, but as consolation, he gave Tarantino a cameo.
His upcoming film, As God Says, is apparently another splatter movie, and it’s based on a comic book. This sort of runs opposite to how I view the Genre Filmmaker coming-of-age — take David Cronenberg for example. Existenz was his last traversal into the world of Cronenbergundian body horror. Ever since, he’s done Cronenbergundian dramas like Spider, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method. As good as those movies can be, I’d be lucky to ever see another Scanners, or Rabid (as bad as those two movies were).
Recently, two of Miike’s movies felt like prestige pieces — 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri, the former being an ultraviolent take on the chambara tradition of having a numbered group of fighters, and the latter a remake of a very good 50s Japanese classic.
But I have to keep in mind that Miike directs two to five movies a year, and the same year he did 13 Assassins there came forth a little number called Zebraman 2. The same year he did an anti-bullying picture he adapted the popular handheld video-game Phoenix Wright.
I may not have a taste for his movies overall, but he’s an extremely intriguing filmmaker, one to watch. I’d be further interested to see if his filmography takes on any sense of direction or theme, consistent with other auteurs.
Specifically let’s discuss the new Oldboy, which unfortunately is doing pretty poorly at the box office. Variety reports that it made an exciting $2 million, opening in a whopping 583 locations. See, I planned on seeing it this weekend but I don’t want to go into Boston. Or New York. Or LA.
It might just be the zero marketing campaign, the bad buzz, or the release following the year’s two biggest blockbusters — but let’s roll with a hypothetical. And in doing so, let’s identify a potentially massive impact on financial performance, one that if proven to be real, should be taken even more into consideration than it already… should be.
Fanboys and fangirls might be loud on the Internet, but as the underperformances of Serenity and Arrested Development Season 4 show us — even the loudest fans don’t mean great box office dividends. But of course, the fans will be bitchin’, and a terribly bitchy variety of fan is that of the foreign film. Everybody knows Oldboy because for one it’s an excellent movie, but also because it’s like The Wire — a very widely available thing that snobs will not shut up about.
There needs to be a proper metric by which to measure the impact of fans on the returns of a film — it vacillates wildly between successful and failuriffic movies. The best method is to just do whatever, just make the most fast-food YA novel franchise pictures appealing to the widest audiences you can imagine. Just do it. I’ve given up. Tomorrow — we’ll continue this Asiany discussion with the news of Takashi Miike’s new movie, and a lookback/bitchiness-session of his truly awful filmography.
I think the hammer is a pretty good visual metaphor for the power of the original. Let’s see how Spike Lee’s remake measures up