New York Asian 2016 Interview: TWISTED JUSTICE Director Shiraishi Kazuya Talks Corrupt Cops and Comedy

Featured Contributor; New York City, New York (@TheDivaReview)
New York Asian 2016 Interview: TWISTED JUSTICE Director Shiraishi Kazuya Talks Corrupt Cops and Comedy

With an attraction to capturing the seamier side of life, director Shiraishi Kazuya came to the New York Asian Film Festival with his darkly comic tale of a corrupt cop, Twisted Justice.  Director Shiraishi spoke with me about his star, Ayano Go, and the real life incidents behind the film.

The Lady Miz Diva:  We’ve heard about how Ayano Go gained and lost an exceptional amount of weight to play the character of Moroboshi in your film.  Was that at your suggestion?  Please talk about your instructions to Mr. Ayano regarding his character in TWISTED JUSTICE?

Shiraishi Kazuya:  I didn’t really think about what would happen if I did it this way, or directed it that way, so in order for Mr. Ayano to live as Moroboshi, I think it was important that he needs not a straight line, but a very bumpy road, in that sense.  I wanted him to be a ball of energy, a ball of passion; I think the heat was important in this role.

I never asked Ayano-san to gain any weight, but I think the fact that the real-life character was a very tough judo player was stuck in Mr. Ayano’s mind, so it was him that suggested that maybe he should gain some weight.

LMD:  Was there more to Moroboshi that was originally written than we saw in the film?

SK:  Yes, there were so many parts.  The first draft was actually 3½ hours long.  It was much more extreme, actually.

LMD:  It’s an interesting balance that Ayano-san has to walk because depending on the viewer, Moroboshi can be viewed as sympathetic or unsympathetic.  An unsympathetic protagonist can sometimes be a challenge for the audience to appreciate; did you sense the risk of creating a film around such a character?

SK:  I always felt that you didn’t need to sympathise with him as long as you found him charming. {Laughs.}

LMD:  Before TWISTED JUSTICE you made THE DEVILS PATH and LOST PARADISE IN TOKYO.  Is exploring and capturing the underbelly of society a fascination for you?

SK:  Yes, I think I’m very much drawn by the underworld, because rather than depicting or seeing a normal, everyday landscape, I want to see a landscape that you cannot normally see or encounter.  And I think depicting people at the bottom of society really allows you to create a film that is full of passion.

LMD:  Please tell us how the project of TWISTED JUSTICE came to you?

SK:  It’s not that it just came to me, but the screenwriter, Mr. Ikegami Junya, we’ve never worked together, but I’ve always known him, and one day we were just drinking and he said, “There’s a screenplay that I would love for you to read.”

LMD:  Also involved in TWISTED JUSTICE is our old friend Chiba Yoshinori, who I’ve known pretty much since the start of his Sushi Typhoon production company.  Please talk about having Chiba-san as your producer?

SK:  Chiba-san was the producer for my last film The Devil's Path as well. Chiba-san is a very esteemed producer: He is known for completing very difficult materials and making a film out of it, and actually doing a good job of doing so, so I very much trust him fully.  When I happened upon this project, he was, without question, the first guy that I considered to consult.

LMD:  I understand the TWISTED JUSTICE is based on the true story of a police inspector.  How closely did you stick to the biography by Mr. Inaba and did you, the writer, or Ayano-san have any interaction with Inaba, himself?

SK:  A lot of the scenes with a female characters are my creation.  And from the time that he’s caught and released from jail, his actual family was waiting for him, so I didn’t want to make that too scandalous.  But the scenes where he is working in the police station, his work as a policeman, 90% was based on real incidents.

LMD:  Has Inaba seen the film yet?

SK:  Yes.

LMD:  What did he think?

SK:  It depressed him because it made him reflect back on all the evil and wrongdoings that he committed. About that last scene in jail, where he says, “I’m still dedicated to being a policeman,” when Inaba-san actually saw that scene and he realised that back then he was still very much loyal to the organisation of the police, that scene really made him remember how stupid he was being and it made him very much remorseful.

LMD:  Did you ask your cast to prepare by reading Mr. Inaba’s memoir?

SK:  No, I didn’t ask them to read the book.  I told them that the screenplay alone was enough.  I just asked them to read the screenplay, but of course I verbally communicated to them that this was basically a story of real incidents.

LMD:  You mentioned earlier that the original draft of the film was 3½ hours long.  What might we’ve seen that ended up cut?

SK:  I don’t think Moroboshi would’ve changed at all, even if it was a 3½ hour movie.  Of course I had to work hard to shorten the 3½ hours into what you saw.  At the same time, this character was so strong so it never blurred for me; it was always sharp, this character.

LMD:  In my interview with him, Ayano-san was very insistent that he intended to be a part of your next project, whatever the project might be.  Does that mean that there is a new project in the works from you?

SK:  {Laughs.} So, yes, I’m very much interested in crime stories, but I am also intrigued by family stories, as well, so perhaps that could be a possibility. The thing about Mr. Ayano is that he really stirs my imagination; there are so many roles that he can do. So, we don’t have a concrete plan, but he really inspires me.

LMD:  It’s a perfect set up for my next question, which is since your last films deal with the darker side of life, whether you were interested in making something lighter, like a rom-com; something completely different than what might be expected of you?

SK:  So, yes, of course I do feel that I want to take on different genres.  I see myself not so much as a writer than as a craftsman, so in that sense I don’t want to inhibit myself by binding myself to a particular genre. As long as it’s interesting, I love to challenge myself.

LMD:  Speaking of comedy, TWISTED JUSTICE has a very dark sense of humor.  How did you judge where to place the humor in this film?

SK:  It’s not as if I’m calculating every little scene to make it work to maintain that balance, I think it’s very much instinct how I maintain that balance. For the comedic scenes, the scenes that make you laugh, I think what worked for this film is that it was all unintentional. The characters in these funny scenes were very much serious; they never set out to make you laugh. I think they’re being serious, but when you see it from the outside, it’s very comedic and humorous. I think that worked well in this film.

LMD:  Humor can sometimes get lost in translation when you’re showing it to another culture. What were your thoughts screening the film earlier this week to the American audience?

SK:  I’d screened the film last week here in New York and I actually got more laughs here than I did in Japan, so it shows that humor translates and is communicable.  I was able to communicate that.  But it’s very curious because on Netflix there is a Japanese show called Hibana, and the general director of that is Hiroki Ryuichi (Kabukicho Love Hotel), and the show is about a Japanese comedian. So this Japanese story I think is much more difficult to communicate, so I’m curious how that’ll do. This show is about manzai, so it’s very Japanese. I am one of the directors but the general director is Hiroki.

This interview is cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review. Please enjoy additional content, including exclusive photos there.

Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Ayano GocomedycrimeJapanese cinemaNYAFF 2016Shiraishi KazuyaTwisted Justice

Around the Internet