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November 24, 2006

DVD Journal: "MPD Psycho"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Takashi Miike's Japanese cop show "MPD Psycho" is the most mind-bending TV series that I've watched since "Twin Peaks."

On the literal level, it's a crime drama along the lines of "CSI": cops, murders, investigations, up-to-date visuals ... But that's where the similarity ends. Miike's show, adapted from a popular manga, is anything but slick and banal. Instead, it's a visionary, five-minutes-in-the-future, low-budget freakout that rolls together cellphones, reality TV, grotesquely beautiful murders, soul teletransportation, dream logic, touches of animation, dementedly commmitted performances, fakey but beautiful video effects, mind-reading, a barrage of inspired style choices, and poetic ultraviolence that'll make you gasp. I'm not at all sure I understood what was going on onscreen, but I was beyond-riveted anyway.

Miike's got the best antennae in the movie business, IMHO. He's also a fireball of talent who seems determined to use moviemaking as a form of self-immolation. I don't know what he's on, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear tomorrow that he's turned into a cold lump of cinders. Yet what a show he's been putting on for the past 12 years. His films haven't all been fully successful, god knows. But The Wife and I haven't watched one yet that didn't strike us as crazily audacious, in an exciting way. When we watch his movies together, we sometimes dare to use the word "genius."

I wrote a bit about Miike's wild-ass yakuza thriller "Dead or Alive" here. Those curious to sample Miike's movies might want to start with the insanely-brilliant "Ichi the Killer" or the quietly terrifying "Audition."

I've written postings about a few other burn-it-all-up / rip-it-down / die-laughing artists too: Townes Van Zandt and Shane MacGowan. Where do these creatures come from? I wrote about some other X-treme movies here and here and here.



posted by Michael at November 24, 2006


I gotta keep pushing Jaroslav Hasek / "The Good Soldier Schweik" (Svejk). Hasek is like a punk anarchist Mark Twain. Anti-war, anti-government, and a great storyteller. His biography and his fiction sometimes get confused, because some of his friends were storytellers too.

There's a new translation out at You can get the book as an e-book for $20 for the first two parts, and the first volume is in print. Self-published and not getting the promotion it deserves.

Posted by: John Emerson on November 24, 2006 3:44 PM

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