Have you ever flipped through the channels one day and ran across the television show MXC on the Spike channel? Yoshitaka Nishi, played by actor Takeshi Kitano, happens to be a very interesting character. On February 23 in the UC Theatre many were able to experience his movie Fireworks aka Hana-bi. Later I was informed that Kitano was a big inspiration for Quentin Tarantino. That bit of information did not surprise me at all.
The story revolves around Nishi, a cop who is currently off duty, enraged from his current life. His fellow coworkers are injured or killed on the job and his wife is nearing her death. Personally I could understand why he would lose his awareness of reality. He is out for vengeance and to put everything back in order the way he sees fit, which really makes the audience sympathetic with his character, especially how rough his contemporary life, whether he is a maniac or not.
The box for the movie made it seem like it was going to be gory and brutal, a nonstop bloodbath for two hours. The movie was much more eloquent and enjoyable than I ever imagined. Sure there were scenes of people being shot in the head, stabbed in the eye with the occasional chopstick and what not but hell, it was not anywhere near as bad as my mind had made it out to be.
Kitano heavily incorporated art into the movie. One of the characters, Horibe, paints many images of animals and people with flowers fused into their bodies. The paintings are odd yet appealing, such as sunflower heads on lions. Other paintings are shown throughout the film that catch the eye – people staring into the snowy night sky with the word “suicide” written in the snow, a samurai ripping his face off of his head. Most of the art in Hana-BI was, in reality, made by Kitano a couple years before the movie was made after a near death experience. I heard many audience members perplexingly commenting on the paintings, but overall I think we all found it fascinating.
The movie was not in chronological order, which threw off a lot of the audience members. Many things that happened later in the movie popped up near the beginning. Overall the confusion is straightened out by the halfway point in the movie, however, you have to be really focusing on everything to get it the first time. I find this style fun and sometimes yuppie-prestigious, yet Kitano does it in a fun fashion rather than looking like he is trying too hard.
The movie is in Japanese, so yes, the whole time they are speaking Japanese with subtitles at the bottom of the screen. This should not turn away an American audience. Kitano did a great job with this movie and just because it is in a different language don’t let it make you not want to watch it. Just think of it as a picture book that takes 103 minutes to read.