Jam Session: Kikujiro No Natsu Koshiki Kaizokuban (1999)

Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Following up on his critically acclaimed Okaeri, Makoto Shinozaki directs this closely observed look behind the scenes of Takeshi Kitano's Kikujiro no Natsu. Shinozaki, who was on-set for most of the film's 28-day shooting schedule, captures the making of the film from essentially its inception to post-production. Being not only the Japanese director with the greatest international following of his generation, but also a newspaper columnist, best-selling author, and the star on a whopping nine television shows, Kitano is an ubiquitous figure in Japan with a schedule as tight as that of a head of state. One day overschedule, and the entire Kitano world threaten to crash to a halt. Adding to the pressure, Kitano is following up on his Golden Lion-winning Hana Bi with Kikujiro -- a bizarre and often hilarious road film that is a complete departure from his previous minimalistic yakuza sagas. In spite of the obvious tension on the set, Kitano is seen cracking jokes, taking suggestions, and directing with the ease of an old pro. Shinozaki also manages to capture a quieter, more reflective Kitano than often seen in popular media. Highlights include Taiwanese master director Hou Hsiao Hsien dropping by during post-production to discuss the finer point of the filmmaking craft. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.