Escape Into the Dark Theater to (Briefly) Escape Our Country’s Darkness

Takeshi Kitano, NYC, 1/5/98

Takeshi Kitano, NYC, 1/5/98

Takeshi “Beat” Kitano is one of those (great) directors who divides your view of the world into two regions–before and after you’ve seen his films. The work encompasses ice cool, ultraviolent yakuza dramas (starring the filmmaker, wearing knife sharp Yoji Yamato suits), unexpectedly emotional character studies and wistful comedies.

Eleven of Kitano’s films will screen, all in 35mm, in a nine-day series at Metrograph beginning on Thursday, November 17. “Hana-bi” (1997), perhaps his best-loved film, seamlessly merges the “two sides of Kitano’s directorial personality: the warm, tender, observant dramatist and the master of controlled chaos.”

Kitano, impassive as always, is perfect as a retired detective, now the caregiver to his beloved dying wife and his wheelchair-bound ex-partner, but he also remembers how to take care of (yakuza) business. The title translates as “Fireworks.”

One of the most important films produced by Office Kitano, Jia Zhanke’s epic, “Platform,” will be shown in the director’s cut on Sunday, November 27 at 2:00 pm, as part of “Welcome to Metrograph: A-Z.” Following the members of a theater troupe over a decade, Jia parallels the personal with the monumental shifts that occurred in China as the Cultural Revolution segued into the beginning of market capitalism.

I photographed Takeshi “Beat” Kitano in midtown at the Kitano hotel. It was a coincidence, not a marketing opportunity, unlike what Ivaka Trump grabbed, awkwardly positioning her arm during the “60 Minutes” interview, displaying her gaudy/ugly, yet expensive (ah, typical Trump) bracelet. If this presidency is going to be one long horrific sales job (in so many ways), Ivanka will need to get lessons on how to be a better mannequin from her (second) step-mother.

The rest of us will need to be hypervigilant, resist, demonstrate, as for the second time in the 21st century, the winner of the popular vote, will not occupy the Oval Office. Hillary Clinton currently leads by more than one million votes, with the tally expected to double. Sign to support Barbara Boxer’s legislation to abolish the Electoral College.

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