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From outrageous flavour of the month to respected modern master - Takashi Miike's rise to fame has been stellar. The former bad boy of Japanese film is now a regular at the world's most prestigious film festivals.Tom Mes, whose groundbreaking Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike helped shape this filmmaker's international career, has been along for the ride ever since Audition turned heads and stomachs at the turn of the millennium. This new book collects more than ten years' worth of his writing on Miike. From dusty film sets in Japan to festival intrigue on the Riviera, and from the straight-to-video ghetto to the stage, Mes covers the full scope of this unclassifiable filmmaker's life and work - with the kind of detail and intimacy that only an insider can provide.Fully endorsed by the filmmaker himself, the full-colour Re-Agitator: A Decade of Writing on Takashi Miike also features a provocative foreword and a gallery of unique set photos by longtime Miike collaborator Christian Storms.This book is not Agitator Part 2. It doesn't continue where the first one left off, but rather collects the vast majority of the writing on Miike that Mes has done over the years for magazines, websites, DVD liner notes, in non-English-language books, as well as for festival catalogues. This luxurious coffee-table hardback also contains previously unpublished material, like an interview recorded at the 2005 Venice film festival, plus a piece on 13 Assassins written exclusively for this book.The wide variety of sources and formats of these texts entails that there is an equally wide variety in styles, tones, and approaches: from impressionistic reviews to personal eyewitness accounts and loose, appreciative write-ups. Re-Agitator is also an opportunity to add some context and background on the development of the Japanese film industry over the past twenty years and Miike's career therein, something that was largely absent from Agitator. The publisher and author also feel very fortunate to be able to include a series of very candid behind-the-scenes photographs taken during the troubled production of Sukiyaki Western Django.
Takashi Miike has permanently shed the 'flavour of the month' image he held in the early years of this century, in the wake of his international breakthrough with Audition. Starting with Gozu's selection for the Director's Fortnight in Cannes in May 2003, Miike's films have become regulars at the world's top festival. He seems to be a favourite at the Mostra in Venice in particular, having shown twice in competition: Sukiyaki Western Django in 2007 and 13 Assassins in 2010. Gone too are the days when every piece of writing on Miike contained the words "wild” and "crazy”. Takashi Miike is now the subject of countless student theses, while non-academic writers are also taking an increasingly reflective approach to his oeuvre. This is also made possible thanks to the widespread availability of subtitled DVDs of a sizeable part of Miike's extensive filmography. All of this of course forms a great source of joy to this particular writer. The reason I wrote my book Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike in the style and tone I did was because I was looking to break the vicious circle of the "wild” and the "crazy” by pointing out that there was a lot more going on than smartly orchestrated scenes of stylish violence. (If this angered some, let me also point out that the book wasn't called Agitator for nothing.) I went into great detail in retelling the storylines of the films I was covering, not only because there is no other way to do close textual analysis, but also because I was convinced at the time that the vast majority of these films would never be seen and that their descriptions in Agitator would be the only record of their existence in any other language beside Japanese. So with the absence, as yet, of new books, I figured I would simply offer one myself. The current volume, however, is not Agitator Part 2. It doesn't continue where the first one left off, but rather collects the vast majority (i.e. everything that didn't make me cringe upon re-reading) of the writing on Miike that I have done over the years for magazines and websites in various countries, as DVD liner notes, in non-English-language books like Anime perdute, as well as for festival catalogues. It also contains previously unpublished material, like an interview recorded at the 2005 Venice film festival and an account of the adventures of Miike and the Gozu gang in Cannes, plus a piece on 13 Assassins written exclusively for this book.