Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2002
USA: Palm Pictures
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi, Kyoko Fukada, Chieko Matsubara, Tsutomu Takeshige
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 113 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains moderate violence
USA Release Date: 10 December 2004 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 30 May 2003


For the first time in six years Takeshi Kitano has remained strictly behind the camera for his latest film DOLLS; undoubtedly his most accomplished and mature film to date, both in terms of its visually enriched, painterly style and the emotional impact of the film's central theme of doomed love. Since his 1989 directorial debut with VIOLENT COP, Kitano has written, directed, edited or starred in almost a film per year as well as continuing to be one of the most foremost TV personalities in Japan. The extraordinary success of 1997's HANA-BI, which won the Golden Lion at Venice brought Kitano to the fore as a leading figure of international cinema. DOLLS reaffirms his position as a cinematic genius, who meticulously composes visual poetry, effortlessly combining realism with moments of extreme artifice.

DOLLS translates the tragic beauty of traditional Bunraku puppet theatre through three intertwined contemporary stories of doomed love connected by the central theme of the 'bound beggars'. Matsumoto and Sawako, who were once a happy couple, are forced to wander the countryside, seemingly aimlessly as bound beggars, connected by a long red cord, on a journey that will cover the four seasons. Hiro is an ageing yakuza boss. Although surrounded by respect and affluence, Hiro is alone and his health is failing. Memories of past love come flooding back as he is drawn back to the park where he used to meet his girlfriend for lunch every day. Haruna was a successful pop star who lived in a glamorous world of TV shows and millions of adoring fans, until an accident left her a physically and emotionally scarred recluse. Nukui, her most devoted fan has come to prove his affection.

One of the 3 major classical theatres of Japan alongside Kabuki and Noh, Bunraku, founded in the sixteenth century, is a perfect synchronisation of puppetry, narration and music. Kitano's DOLLS salutes the beauty of the Bunraku puppets, with an excerpt from Monzaemon Chikamatsu's story of doomed love "Meido no Kikaku"; the central conflict between social pressure and personal desire, mirrored by Kitano's human puppets. Cinematographer and long term collaborator, Katsumi Yanagishima's ravishingly beautiful images of the Japanese seasons - cherry blossom and maple leaves - frames the scene. Innovative fashion designer and self proclaimed "Kitano film freak" Yohji Yamamoto was given total creative freedom to produce the visually arresting, elegant designs for the central 'bound beggars' in the film. Regular Kitano collaborator, composer, Joe Hisaishi, provides the emotive score that encapsulates the film. After an incredibly prolific and diverse twenty five year career, Takeshi Kitano has again proven, that he is able to surprise the viewer with this beautiful, lyrical reflection on the undying power of love.

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