Don Brown the8thsamurai
Tue Jan 30 20:37:00 EST 2001

Whoops, apologies for sending personal mail to the list.  Further apologies 
for further cluttering up your inboxes with my apology.  
Last Saturday, I saw Kitano's Takeshi's "Brother" on Dotonbori Boulevard, 
Osaka.  Considering it was the film's opening day, I expected a bit of a 
fight for seats, but it turned out that the cinema was half empty.  Hardly 
the same demand there was for "Whiteout" when I saw that last year.  
Regarding the film itself, well, I haven't seen Battle Royale yet but 
Brother did seem to be somewhat of a companion piece to that movie.  Lots 
of killing, little point.  Kitano wasn't saying anything that he hadn't 
already in his other yakuza-themed movies, and the whole thing had the 
feeling of a failed experiment.  The black-Japanese angle was handled with 
so little depth that it rendered it inconsequential.  Even Omar Epps, who 
played the only main American character, was relegated to a superficial 
sidekick role. Kitano's claims in the media that he was aiming to turn 
stereotypes of Japanese in American movies on their head also rang a bit 
hollow.  Yes, his Japanese characters were certainly relentless and 
strong-willed, but they were still yakuza, and rather glorified versions at 
that.  The black and Italian characters were so thinly drawn that it was 
effectively reverse discrimination on Kitano's part, giving all the best 
lines and characterisations to his talented Japanese cast.  And the gaping 
holes in the plot... I'm unaware as to how this film has been received so 
far, but personally this was somewhat of a disappointment.  Like so many 
other actor/directors, Kitano's best films seem to be the ones that he 
isn't in.
Looking forward to discussing this more with other Kinejapaners.
Don Brown
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