Sunday, 8 October 2017

Getting Any?

Cast: Dankan, Takeshi Kitano, Tokie Hidari, Shoji Kobayashi, and Shinsuke Yamane

Director: Takeshi Kitano

108 minutes (15) 1994
Widescreen ratio 1.85:1  
Third Window blu-ray region B
[released 16 October]

Rating: 8/10
Review by Mike Philbin

Yakuza hitmen, fantastical sexual content, and just a peck of pickled pepper... As the ever-twitching Kitano himself confesses, in the very severe interrogation-come-interview as part of the extras on the original DVD release of Getting Any? - “I fucking hate this cheap and nasty film, it’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever done. I will probably never make another film in Japan.” Kitano would have loved that, irreverence from his reviewer - irony.

Truth be told, Kitano is a real fan of this (early) movie. How many of you know that despite his starring in numerous yakuza films as a gangster without compassion, a stone-cold killer, Kitano is one of Japan’s most respected and shamelessly irreverent comedians? Banned in the 1970s from all the major television networks for appearing in the nude, there is no surprise that finally a film such as Getting Any? would be made by this mad genius.

While Getting Any? is about sex, it’s not a sex film. It’s not porn, at least. There is some sexual content but, mostly, the sex is played for laughs. Asao (Dankan) needs to get laid but to do this, in the Japan of Kitano’s youth (as he explains in great detail in his interview), you had to have a car. Thus begins car farce after car farce where Asao is continuously ripped off by the car dealer on his quest to find the perfect passion-wagon. Asao decides to rob a bank to get more money, this time to buy a first class flight ticket because in first class the air hostesses get ’em out and get it on! Or so Asao convinces himself.

Then he gets into acting - actors always get head, right? Then he is made invisible by a mad professor (played by Kitano himself) and lots of patented Japanese bath-house and ‘love hotel’ tomfoolery ensues. Then he becomes a yakuza hitman. He ends up romancing a giant turd - very odd.

Getting Any? is a mad, daft road movie of a film - it is evident Kitano is a fan of western cinema and probably the early slapstick cinema like Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Kops and Buster Keaton. Unfortunately, the Japanese film industry and Japanese society in-jokes diminish the appeal of the film to a western audience. Those willing to invest some time in discovering what the hell chambara cinema is, or who the hell Zatoichi the blind swordsman is, and those who have already enjoyed Kitano in his yakuza roles will appreciate the irony, the self-deprecation and clowning around that is stuffed into this film.

He’s one of their own, but even the Japanese don’t understand their resident joker; it seems - for example, when the film was released in Japan, nobody said anything. There was just no critical response from the media about his film - maybe they hoped it would sink without trace, so close does it get to the underlying stink of the modern Japanese mentality.

The guy who plays Asao does an exemplary job of keeping his face straight throughout the entire film. No mean feat in itself considering the subject matter. One classic scene involving the ‘test driving’ of a car in a showroom (well, more a test-driving of the secretary in the role of virtual car date) really sticks in the mind as wonderfully subversive and absurdist.

So, what’s wrong with Kitano? Don’t you get it? He’s a comedian. Geddit? It’s a comedian’s job to make you laugh, not to make you understand. Well, as a fan of the comatose humour of American social commentator Steven Wright, I like my humour a little less ribald than this. But I bet the French would love it - they go for slapstick in their humour too, especially from their stage comedians.

As a westerner, you can love some of Kitano’s other films but this one will be just too anal, too out there for most westerners to digest. They’ll end up going, ‘Like what the fuck was that?’ and this director deserves more than that. I really like this film’s irreverence and strangeness - it takes one into Twin Peaks territory but as part of a cart wheeling knickers show of back-of-the-class mischief. 

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