Beat Takeshi's Glory to the Filmmaker, in the first instance, is difficult to rate. Its merits are clear, but its failures are even more striking. It is second in his supposed trilogy of self-critical, self-reflective, self-mocking metamovies. Having given up on his increasingly mainstream audiences (the accolade he received after Zatoichi), Beat Takeshi is trying to bring the "Beat" back into the mix. It remains an open question whether his methods are to be applauded or lamented. Here, in this film, Kitano widens the schism between himself, the auteur, and the movie-going audiences, by techniques of alienation that are borderline sado-masochistic. The salvaging fact is the comedy of the film, which shows Kitano's long-standing background as a comic. He has shown this side of his psyche only very rarely in his films. So, I am torn between appreciating the light-hearted spirit of the film and castigating, as I should, its heavy-handed pacing and direction.
But let's look back for a moment... The film that started off this self-reflective trilogy two years ago, Takeshis', I really enjoyed (especially after repeated viewings), because it culminated his career up to that point. This current film does not achieve, or even try to achieve, anything of the sort. It does not reflect back as much as make fun of any sense of history and continuity. It is a meta-movie, a non-movie, a post-movie... and, underneath it all, a series of quirky scenes, gags and fragmentary ideas. The humour of the film is its driving force, making it closer to his comedy Getting Any (1995) than anything he's done before or since. But one has to wade through a pool of dragging nonsense to get to those tasty bits, for which reason I cannot recommend this film as a comedy.
At parts, I found the film pretentious, self-righteous and uninvolving. In a word, it's too self-conscious to be a comedy.
During some other scenes I was completely at loss of words (whether because of the film's absurdity, incoherence or its complete disregard for the audience), to the degree that I simply decided I would postpone my judgment for some other day... Well, that "other day" is today, but I still can't make up my mind... The movie disarms the viewer, but it does not live up to much, either. It's like an extended foreplay.
All in all, one has to appreciate Kitano's vision and uniqueness, but this film works best as a meta-statement of the art of movie making and not so well as a comedy, a drama or anything else. Most viewers will probably find it to be, rightly or wrongly, an irredeemable piece of trash.
I kinda liked it. It's not good enough to classify as Dada, but it's just a notch above kitsch.
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