Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beat Takeshi vs. Takeshi Kitano (Casio Abe, 2005) / Kitano Takeshi (Aaron Gerow, 2007)

Takeshi Kitano in Hana-Bi (1997).

Recently I have read two books about Takeshi Kitano, the first one being Casio Abe's Beat Takeshi vs. Takeshi Kitano and the second one being Aaron Gerow's Kitano Takeshi. I preferred Gerow's take on Kitano's work as an actor and director, probably because Abe's writing was too academic for me. But another aspect that really annoyed me with Abe's book was the way that he seemed to have one main theory that he forced onto every one of Kitano's films, even when it didn't really fit.

Gerow uses some of the same themes and theories as Abe, such as Takeshi Kitano's struggle to separate himself from his tv-persona of 'Beat' Takeshi and his obsession with his own death, but seems to be more adaptable to the differences in Kitano's films. It makes his book seem less forced and his analyzing of the films becomes more rewarding since it isn't so narrow.

Both books are interesting reads in their own right, but I felt that Gerow gives a wider analysis of Kitano as a person and of his films, while Abe goes deeper into the conflict between 'Beat Takeshi' and Takeshi Kitano and tv versus cinema. I must say, though, that judging by these two books, Kitano's films are more compelling to watch than to read about.