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Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike [Paperback]

By Tom Mes
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Item description for Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike by Tom Mes...

Fully-revised and updated edition of the best-selling guide to Japan's most prolific and successful film director. This second edition of Agitator features * a new and expanded 16-page color section * completely updated DVD information * several brand-new reviews of Takashi Miike films including Audition, Dead or Alive, Ichi the Killer, and Visitor Q * Takashi Miike's own diary on the making of his controversial film Ichi the Killer, published in English for the first time ever * a career-spanning interview * ground-breaking, exhaustive and fully endorsed by Takashi Miike himself These films have amazed, stunned, delighted and shocked audiences the world over, garnering critical acclaim for their director. This is the definitive word on the most talked-about filmmaker of the decade.

An essential purchase for anyone wanting to know where cinema is heading in the 21st century. -- Pete Tombs, Mondo Macabro.

An impeccably-researched and exhaustive look at one of the most vital forces in international cinema right now. -- Ain't It Cool News.

An extensively researched, cinematically literate, highly welcome addition to the slim shelf of books on contemporary Japanese films. -- Cinemaya

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Item Specifications...

Pages   427
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.75" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   2.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 27, 2006
Publisher   FAB Press
ISBN  1903254418  
ISBN13  9781903254417  

Availability  0 units.

More About Tom Mes

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Tom Mes is the author of the widely praised book Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike (also from FAB Press) and co-author, with Jasper Sharp, of The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film. He is the founder and editor of, the world's foremost publication on Japanese cinema. Mes also contributed to the anthology The Cinema of Japan and Korea. He also regularly contributes audio commentaries and liner notes to DVD releases of Japanese films worldwide.

Tom Mes was born in 1974.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Direction & Production
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > History & Criticism

Reviews - What do customers think about Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike?

A Timely Study  Mar 2, 2008
One of the major stumbling blocks for enthusiasts of Japanese cinema in the west is the difficulty one finds in viewing the material. The major directors of Japanese cinema (Naruse, Kurosawa, Ozu, Oshima, Mizoguchi et al) are well represented. But a director like Takashi Miike, despite his strong cult following in the west, has still only had a small fraction of his prolific output distributed here. It becomes difficult therefore to construct patterns in his cinema or progressions of style and content. However this book goes some way to repairing the distribution limbo of his films, although nothing can replace seeing the films themselves.

Author Tom Mes dispenses with theories of genre and the intricacies of auteur theory (which would no doubt be to the directors approval) and chooses, via textual analysis, to map out the thematic universe that Miike has constructed in his films. Naturally this suggests authorship of some kind, and Mes acknowledges Miike as an artist without getting carried away rhetorically. The thematic network is mapped out in chronological terms, meaning one can read it straight through, or dip in, for reference purposes. Miike has largely worked in an industrial context in which is films are pre-written, pre-budgeted and sometimes pre-cast, but despite this, Mes argues that Miike is still able to weave personal concerns into the generically divergent material.

Subsequently the chapter on themes is indispensable and Mes goes on to identify rootlessness, the outcast, the search for happiness, nostalgia, the family unit and violence as the recurring themes in his work. It is true that these motifs re-occur in a remarkable number of his films, and this goes hand in hand with a distinctive visual style that places great emphasis on montage sequences, interesting colour palettes, and a penchant for staggering visual exaggeration. The director also uses a repertoire of actors and technicians, and one begins to see the indelible print of an author. Fortunately this book is not a defence of Miike's ultra-violent and transgressive cinema, and doesn't attempt to raise Miike's cultural standing. Mes, along with Jasper Sharp runs the website Midnight Eye, which is devoted to New Japanese Cinema, and along with this book is the first port of call on the amazing cinematic world of Takashi Miike.
If your a fan of Miike, this is essental  Apr 20, 2007
Tom Mes of the website MidnightEye, delivers an informative book that deals with Miike background and many of his films. This is neither a fluff promotional book for Miike or dry academic read. I found it to be the perfect blend of information, interest, and criticism.
never received this item  Nov 5, 2006
I ordered this item 2 months ago and never received it
Probably the only book you will ever need on Miike  Sep 7, 2006
I will say upfront that I have not read the entire book. I'd say at the time of this writing, I've read about half of it. I do feel the need though to comment on this book's absolutely stunning design and overall thoroughness of the content, so please don't disregard this review without reading the rest.

For starters, the book is simply beautiful. The quality of the book is top-notch and strongly bound, with a beautiful cover and high resolution pictures in both color and black and white.

The reason I've only read about half of it is because while I am familiar with several of Miike's films (Ichi the Killer, Audition, Gozu, etc.), I haven't seen many of the films that are discussed in great detail in the book. Rather than spoil the films for myself, I have chosen not to read the essays on these films until I have seen them.

As for what I have read, it's all really good stuff. Interviews, essays on the films that are very well written and interesting and even excerpts of Miike's production diary for Ichi the Killer, translated from Japanese for our reading pleasure. Takashi Miike goes from being an enigmatic figure to a more complicated, exciting and important person in the world of today's cinema.

What impressed me the most about this book is the author's obvious appreciation for the subject and the fact that you can tell that some serious work went into making this must-own, exhaustively researched reference guide. Tom Mes deserves kudos for a job well done.

Recommended for fans of Japanese cinema and a must-own for appreciators of Miike's oeuvre. I think all we need now is a book of this caliber to be completed for Takeshi Kitano.
Essential  Jun 22, 2006
Tom Mes has put together an outstanding overview of Takashi Miike's oeuvre. American audiences tend to consider Miike a fairly young director, but his career began well before "Audition" reached the USA. Somehow, Mes was able to view nearly all of Miike's films, including his V Cinema movies which are unavailable in the states. The complete filmography is worth the price of the book by itself.

Mes begins by outlining common themes found in much of Miike's work and gives some thorough biographical information. The remainder of the book is devoted mostly to describing each film. There is some analysis and Mes usually highlights the thematic material, but most of the sections are descriptive above all else. You may not find what you're looking for if you're hoping for a detailed analytical study. Mes comes close to that with a few films (such as Ichi the Killer and Audition), but if he were to go into vast detail with each film, the book would be huge.

The important thing is, this is the only decent English language study of the work of this very important Japanese filmmaker. If you enjoy Takashi Miike's films, pick up this book. It's an essential Miike resource.

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