sexta-feira, 29 de maio de 2009

What I know about a Man named Shinya Tsukamoto

(Bullet Ballet, 1998)
By Takashi Miike

"Huh? He's just a nice regular guy."
This was my honest impression when I first met the peculiar film director Shinya Tsukamoto.
It must have been around 1996 or '97, if I remember correctly.
The location was a hotel in Tokyo.
The occasion was the wedding of Koji Tsukamoto, protagonist of Tokyo Fist and the director's younger brother. Director Tsukamoto followed all the required Japanese customs as he served as the groom's older brother, in front of the many guests that had come to celebrate the young man's new life.
In other words; in accordance with Japanese conduct he humbly bent his back, lowered his head and said:
"Thank you for all the kindness you've shown to my brother. He's still young, but I hope you'll be good enough to continue to support him in the future."
And he delighted in his younger brother's happiness more than anyone in the room. The heartwarming personification of the good older brother. He had kind, peaceful eyes... he really did.
At that moment.

"Hah! Just as I thought, he is crazy after all."
This was my second impression when I met the peculiar film director Shinya Tsukamoto for the second time.
It must have been about two months after the wedding party.
The location was a rundown building in suburban Tokyo.
At the time I was making a kitschy yakuza movie called Full Metal Yakuza. But I ran into some problems and couldn't use the arranged location for the next day's shoot. For a poor director a single day's delay can have disastrous consequences, so we tried everything we could to find a new suitable location.
Good news arrived. Director Tsukamoto happened to be shooting his new film Bullet Ballet in just that kind of place.
Right! I thought of his peaceful eyes, the kind glance of the good brother. Those eyes must be able to help me. I called him up straight away.
"Mister Tsukamoto, I'm stuck. Please allow me to use a tiny corner of your location."
As I expected:
"Be my guest."

The shooting day. Just after I arrived, I went to look for director Tsukamoto to thank him.
There he was. Director Tsukamoto was looking into the camera and giving indications for the lighting. Fake blood gushed from the head of the man lying on the floor in front of the lens. Even so early in the morning there was a curious tension in the air. Director Tsukamoto seemed unhappy with the composition, looked up from the viewfinder and glanced at his script with a frown. Then his eyes looked in my direction.

These eyes were wild. Totally wild.
Drugs are illegal by Japanese law, so there are very few wild-eyed people in Japan.
In other words, these eyes are naturally wild. Not because of a drug administered from the outside, they are naturally wild because of the adrenalin secreted by the brain.
"...Yikes! He... he's already wild-eyed from morning."
I couldn't talk to him. I shuffled back to my set and began filming. I shot for dear life to shake off the spectre of those eyes. I don't remember exactly, but I think I must have done about 80 set-ups that day. It was an average number for me at the time.
Well, I'll go back to thank Tsukamoto and then head for home. Even Tsukamoto wouldn't continue being wild-eyed for that long...
"No way! ... Th...that's not."
Director Tsukamoto was looking into the camera. Fake blood gushed from the head of the man lying on the floor in front of the lens...
You mean you've been working on the same shot since this morning?!
Looking up from the viewfinder and glancing in my direction, the director noticed me standing stunned in a corner.
"You finished already. Good-work."
He smiled at me, still wild-eyed.
I will never be able to beat this guy.

This is him: tough and generous madman Shinya Tsukamoto.

PS: Younger brother Koji, whose union with the woman he loved was celebrated by so many, recently departed on a new journey in search for more freedom... By himself.

November 30, 2004

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