By chance, two Takashi Miike movies, Dead or Alive and Audition, opened in my town with in a week of one another in 2001. It was pretty eye opening seeing the huge difference between them, the speedy carnage of the former and the slow suspense of the latter, and I became an instant fan. Since then I've managed to track down just six more Miike movies, and in that same time he has made over forty (including videos and TV shows). The speed of his production fits perfectly with the personality of his movies. They're often nonsensical; I couldn't make heads or tails of two of his more recent pictures, Gozu and The Great Yokai War. And they're very definitely energetic, verging on crazy. He reminds me of the great German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who cranked out over 40 movies and TV shows in less than 15 years and died at the age of 37. Miike is now 48 and one wonders how much longer he can keep going before he combusts.
Miike's new movie, Sukiyaki Western Django, finds him making a slight change of pace. No, the movie is still crazy and fast and nearly unintelligible, but he has stopped for a moment to consider the work of other filmmakers. The movie is a tribute to Spaghetti Westerns, and especially Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964), which in turn was based on Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961). Remember Bono's taunt at the beginning of U2's cover version of "Helter Skelter"? ("This song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealing it back.") This movie feels as if Miike is doing some stealing back of his own.