Okay, so I will be the first to admit that I watch A LOT of foreign films. It's mainly because at this point in time, that's who is making the best films. Spain is definitely my favorite movie country at this point in time because they have so many powerful films coming out of their country. However, I also still like Japan because they're friggin' weird. However, every time I talk about Japanese cinema to people who have some idea about films outside of the US, they mention one name: Takashi Miike.
Seriously? No Ozu, Kobayashi, Obayashi, Mizoguchi, or even Kurosawa? Fucking Miike. Now, I'm going to tell you that I don't hate Takashi Miike, he's made a few good films (To be fair I've only seen Audition, One Missed Call, Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins, Sukiyaki Western Django, and his segment in Three Extremes) but nothing he's done has ever blown me away. Hell, I wrote about One Missed Call a few years ago because I was bored and had just seen the American remake. That's the only reason I wrote about it. This is the point where I can be a cinema snob and scoff when people say he's a good director. I feel he makes weird movies that he really has no idea how to end.
To me, Miike is like a guy who eats his own feces and says, "Look how weird I am. I'm so weird." The novelty of that shit eating grin will only get you so far. Now, let's talk about a director who uses his feces as paint and makes beautiful pictures: Shion Sono (or is it Sion Sono?). He makes some weird ass movies, you think I'm going to deny that? No! His movies are fucking weird. Who else makes a four hour movie about taking pictures of panties.
Yeah, I'm aware that it's about way more than that but seriously, that is a pretty big part of the film.
Who would make a rap musical about a devil worshiping cannibal trying to take over Tokyo? Or make a film where the main actress (also the director's wife) stands naked in front of a mirror telling people how good sausage is? Sono makes some weird as hell films but I always enjoy them. However, he also makes some really interesting serious films too. Himizu is a very good example of this. It's the struggles of a young Japanese boy whose parents don't really seem to want him.
That's another thing, Sono fucking hates families and I love it. The morbid way the girl's parents in Himizu tell her they wish she was dead is something I sometimes think my parents would do. There is some malice behind his portrayal of families, which makes you question what happened to him. He also doesn't like religion...well who could blame him?
Overall, that's what I really adore about Sono, he makes films with a purpose. Miike's films are interesting but they ultimately don't go anywhere. Ichi the Killer just kinda ended making me go "What the hell happened?" And then I read on wikipedia that some kid had telekinesis or something...WHAT? Where the hell did that come from? Apparently, it's not in the manga so yeah...stop making up bullshit!
I'm a filmmaker, I believe that whatever the audience sees is what happens. I don't care about some backstory that was in the script. Did it make the director's cut? No? Then it didn't happen! I hate the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko because there is so much stuff that was cut.
Sorry, I got distracted by director's cuts. As I was saying, the thing I like about Sono is there's always something he's trying to say. I'm sure even Suicide Club has something it's trying to say (Japanese pop bands are evil probably) and that's my least favorite film he's made.
The whole point of this post is to say that if you are one of those people who really likes Miike, just check out Sono because...well like I said, he's a weirdo, but he has a method to his madness.
Oh and Sono apparently has an obsession with Mitsuko...I don't know why but a lot of his female characters have this name. I know it's probably a fairly common name in Japan but I do find it strange the name shows up in almost all of his films.
Anyway, if you're interested in checking out some of Sono's films I'll recommend some of his more "accessible" ones:
Why Don't You Play in Hell (my personal favorite)
Noriko's Dinner Table
Guilty of Romance
Love Exposure (WARNING it's 4 hours long)