Here is today’s lesson in kinetics, from Violent Cop. The wobbling gait of rogue cop Azuma as he ambles through Tokyo, played by sometime comedian, sometime deadpan actor, Kitano Takeshi.
All week long I have been doing research for a radio piece which will air on NPR in mid-March. It concerns gangster films, horror, teenagers, and fans of genre fiction and film, with a twist of reality TV. This has all resulted in a mad rush of viewing yakuza films, a genre I have only really dabbled in viewing, with my knowledge very much skewed to freestyle elements like Suzuki Seijun and Yanagimachi Mitsuo. Yanagimachi’s 1976 verité work Godspeed You Black Emperor! not only documented the grainy lives of budding chinpira gateway gangsters…
but inspired quite a good avant-gardeish Montreal band.
Nor was I familiar with the work of Kume Daisaku, the guy who converted Satie’s wistful piano piece, “Gnossienne #1,” into the more aggro and less pensive electronic score for Kitano’s walk across the bridges and catwalks of Tokyo. This is how the original piano version sounds.
This piece is remarkably apt for adaptation to Kitano’s notoriously expressive body because it has no time signature and no bar lines. It’s kind of the musical equivalent of free verse, the poetic movement pioneered by Wordsworth (among others) in which the rhythms of vernacular speech banished the formal constraints of tight rhymed verse. Kitano’s gait does just that, as does his persona in the film, and others it traverses, establishing its own internal rhythm, whose relentlessness and lack of self-reflection is beautifully established in Kume’s re-write, above.