Would you enjoy a film that had multiple genres crammed into it? I mean horror, sci-fi, comedy, drama, a period piece, as well as a gangster styled theme? In this middle part of Takeshi Kitano’s autobiographical trilogy, Glory to the Filmmaker, that’s exactly what he does. Takeshi is known mostly for his gangster/yakuza films and the premise of Glory is that he is no longer going to do Yakuza films anymore as he has given them up. He tries his hand at other genres and spoofs himself along the way. This movie is more like a best-of highlight reel and it was also hilarious seeing Takeshi go back to his slapstick comedy routes. It’s literally a bunch of separate short films spliced together with a longer segment at the end that is part sci-fi, part odd romance, and part comedy. It’s also the funniest thing by him I’ve seen, even if some of the humor can feel forced. Takeshi carries around a metallic mannequin that he transforms into anytime he is in physical harm. Weirdness abounds, as in the big robot that takes on the tanks in the Gulf War, the weird Matrix scenes that pop out of nowhere, as well as the wrestling match that ensues when a mom and daughter drop a roach into their ramen. Similar to anime and, again, slapstick comedy, when something ridiculous happens, everyone drops on the ground as though incredulously overwhelmed by the situation.
It’s obvious Takeshi is having fun while also exploring how fractured his mind can be. People crave the simplicity of categories, wanting people to stick with what they know. It reminds me of a great Nietzsche quote: “When we have to change our minds about a person, we hold the inconvenience he causes us very much against him.”
This film causes us to wonder who the real Takeshi is. And perhaps his answer is, all of them. That includes the madness, the humor, the romance, the long silences, the stoic gazes, as well as the nonsensical violence. The funny thing about movie goers is that often, they will complain if a director only creates one type of film, dismissing them as one-trick ponies. But if they try something different, they’ll complain they want more of the same. As an artist, how do you balance that desire for innovation while at the same time expanding on what you are already good at?
As much as I enjoyed Glory to the Filmmaker, I’ll admit, it has some slow moments and at times, I was confused at where it was going. The funny thing is, I felt Takeshi was indifferent to my opinion, turning into that stone mannequin whenever criticism came up. He mainly focused on making the film he wanted and had a good sense of humor about his journey there. I should take notes.