Cannes 2010: OUTRAGE Review

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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Cannes 2010: OUTRAGE Review
Takeshi Kitano is back. After a trio of increasingly self-reflective films Kitano is back in the genre where he built his name and audience in the first place. He is back to the world of the yakuza, a world of manly men doing manly things which generally involve a great deal of pain for other, less manly men. When it comes to the gangster film few have ever done it better than Kitano and with Outrage he is absolutely back in peak form, his latest film playing as though the Kitano who made Fireworks and Sonatine has spent the past several years steeping himself in the world of original yakuza-auteur Kinji Fukasaku.

The complex plot stars the writer-director as Otomo, a mid level mob boss. Otomo's direct loyalties lie with Ikemoto, his gangster-father, an aging gang leader who has formed a formal pact with Murase. This pact has raised the ire of the overall yakuza Chairman, the highest ranking gangster of them all to whom Ikemoto must answer. The Chairman claims his displeasure stems from the shame of associating with Murase's drug business but it is equally likely that he simply doesn't like these two powerful men creating an alliance that could threaten his own power. Whatever the reason, the Chairman instructs Ikemoto to distance himself from Murase, a task Ikemoto then hands to Otomo to accomplish by any means necessary.

What follows is an ever growing spiral of violence and questionable motive. Everybody has an angle in this game. Nobody's motives are clean. And as the forces move into play we see the naked lust for power and quest for basic survival in its most basic terms. For while the yakuza world may be a complex and highly ordered one the driving forces behind it could not be more simple: Everything comes down to greed and fear.

Despite the plot complexity, Kitano directs one of his most direct and most violent pictures here. His work behind the camera is crisp and precise, his work in front of it demonstrating again that Kitano is generally at his best as a blank cipher, one that you can read almost anything in to and one capable of sudden bursts in any direction without warning. Kitano surrounds himself with talent both young and old, the cast filled out with young stars (Ryo Kase) and reliable older faces (Jun Kinimura, Renji Ishibashi) alike. All of the performances are strong, all of the decisions sure, with the only wobbles coming with the occasional foray into English.

Though not Kitano's strongest film - I personally give that title to Sonatine - it is clearly his best since Zatoichi and one which stands comfortably beside both Sonatine and Fireworks to create a trio of truly iconic international crime films.
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WillMay 17, 2010 9:01 PM

I'm really looking forward to this... though if it comes out in June in Japan what are the chances we'll see it at TIFF '10?

I wasn't a fan of the first two movies in his surrealist trilogy, but I think Achilles and the Tortoise is absolutely brilliant. Zatoichi was great though, glad to see Kitano back directing genre pictures. Can't wait.

Joshua ChaplinskyMay 17, 2010 9:06 PM

I may be in the minority, but I loved Takeshi's (or however the hell you spell it.)

Todd BrownMay 17, 2010 9:22 PM

I actually enjoy Takeshis, too, and Achilles isn't hideous but Glory To The Filmmaker is totally self absorbed junk.

James MarshMay 17, 2010 10:19 PM

Achilles and the Tortoise was great fun, while I struggled with Takeshis and gave Glory... a wide berth. Very excited about this!

Always had you pegged for a Fireworks man, Todd! Good call, Sonatine is my favourite too!

Kurt HalfyardMay 17, 2010 11:05 PM

Another big fan of Takeshis here. Didn't watch the other two, one (good one) was enough for me!

JahsoldierMay 18, 2010 2:54 AM

Glad to see this film turned out as I had hoped :)

Takeshis was good and I avoided Achilles and Glory, but bring back his Sonatine days I say.

AirchinapilotMay 18, 2010 7:23 PM

Sometimes when I read "Twitch" I think the twitch refers to Takeshi's facial tic. :)

Looking forward to a Sonatine followup.

James DennisMay 21, 2010 5:50 AM

I still think Violent Cop packs one hell of a punch. That accidental shooting near the end... first time you see it... ouch.

Joshua ChaplinskyMay 21, 2010 11:28 AM

Haven't seen "Achilles." Though "Glory" was... silly. Very silly.