Dolls is a tragedy wrapped up in a very stylish and atmospheric cocoon, allowing the audience to be swamped by its sadness, but without ever letting go off the beauty that surrounds it.
Kitano's humor is simple, somewhat childish and often improvised, but thanks to the typical editing and his superb comical body language it works wonders.
The perfect showcase for Kitano's versatility. It's funny, poetic, violent and leaves you with a perfect dramatic punch in the gut that lingers long beyond the end credits.
Even though the films Kitano made prior to Sonatine aren't bad at all, Sonatine is the first true testament to his genius.
The good thing is that it's not all just an ode to himself, Kitano doesn't mind making some fun of himself or the people around him.
The first hour or so provides a solid setup, introducing all characters and factions related to the Yakuza gang, while the final 30 minutes are the icing on the cake.
Glory to the Filmmaker is one big happy mess of filmmaking, referencing many other directors, resembling many more, but defying them all by making something totally unique and totally Kitano.
Brother is not an American Kitano film, it's a Kitano film set in America. If you liked Sonatine, Hana-bi and 3-4x Jugatsu then you really can't go wrong with this one.
A must for Kitano fans and probably art fans alike (as all paintings were made by Kitano himself and are apparently based on existing paintings).
The good stuff
A more than respectable finish to Kitano's Outrage trilogy. It's like watching chess, only without knowing which pieces are controlled by what player. Slick, harsh and with a wry sense of humor, Kitano remains the master of the Yakuza film.
Never watched a classic Zatoichi, even then it's obvious Kitano made this character and this franchise his own. Some very typical comical elements, a superb soundtrack, short bursts of stylized violence and Kitano taking up the lead. It's everything you'd expect from a Kitano film, only set in world of samurais and blind masseurs.
Outrage: Beyond falls just a little short of its predecessor. Because of the fact that it feels like the middle section of a full-blown trilogy the ending isn't as convincing as it could've been.
The only genuine comedy feature Kitano ever directed. While comedy it a big part of his oeuvre, it tends to come second in his films. Expect plenty of dry, absurd and crazy comedy sketches, held together by a slim storyline. It's funny though and that's what really matters. Not Kitano's best, but thoroughly entertaining.
A beautiful little drama. Kitano's style is already in full effect here. The quirky yet loveable characters, the stark cinematography, the dry comedy, Hisaishi's perfectly complimentary score that gives the film its heart. It may not be able to compete with Kitano's best work, but it's so pleasant that the unexpected ending floored me again.
One of Kitano's more basic dramas, even then he finds ample ways to let it shine. Certainly not his most dashing or distinctive film, but the characters are all lovely, performances are strong, the atmosphere is pleasantly meandering and Hisaishi's soundtrack is once again a big asset. I've seen this film a couple of times now and it has never disappointed me. Quality film making.