Kikujiro (1999, Takeshi Kitano)

Another quiet movie with gangsters in it and quick bursts of excitement which ends up at the sea. The missing link (for me) between Fireworks and Dolls.

Young Masao ditches his gramma (Kazuko Yoshiyuki, star of Empire of Passion) and hits the road with a few bucks looking for his mother. A neighbor sees what’s happening and sends her ex-yakuza husband (Kitano) to look after him. Kitano/Kikujiro (for some reason, his name is withheld until the final minute) is generally bad-tempered, but still protective. He drags the kid to a racetrack and blows all their money, then spends the rest of the movie hitching rides.

Once they find Masao’s mother (she’s started another family), Kikujiro changes his tune, decides he needs to provide the kid with a pleasantly memorable adventure instead of letting it end in bitterness. So he recruits a hippie with a van and two bikers (Baldy and Fatso) for a camp-out weekend of games and costumes. It has a similar tone to what I remember of Fireworks, but more fun and without all the killing.

Senses of Cinema:

The narrative rambles along through a series of chapters, all laid out in advance with the key words featuring in a picture postcard opening. We wait for the moment to see just what is to occur that has produced the sometimes bizarre, sometimes banal images that eventually form a series of childhood memories.


What I find most congenial is the idea of a bad guy who does something good pretty much by accident, so that’s what I went with. It became the basic rule of the film’s game: good results accidentally coming from bad actions.