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Sep 9, 2010 10:19 PM by Alison Haynes

Japanese cult director in Venice with samurai film

VENICE, Italy (AP) - Japanese cult director Takashi Miike says
he remade the 1963 classic "Thirteen Assassins" to help Japan's
younger generation learn about the past.
The film is set about 150 years ago, toward the end of the
samurai period. An esteemed samurai, Shinzaemon Shimada, played by
Japanese superstar Koji Yakusho - best known to international
audiences for his roles in "Babel" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" -
calls on 12 other elite warriors to end the sadistic rule of Lord
Naritsugu.
"I wanted the audience to realize that this story is not taking
place in the remote past, but rather in a recent past when our
grand-grand parents lived," the director told a news conference
Thursday ahead of the film's premiere in competition for the Golden
Lion. "It is our story, the story of our everyday life. In Japan,
contemporary history is something children do not know very well."
The movie is a remake of Eiichi Kudo's black-and-white classic
of the samurai genre.
Stylish and intricately choreographed, the story line presents
the noble ideals often associated with samurai, for example, when
early in the film Shimada says the greatest honor he could achieve
as a samurai would be to die a "noble death."
"Fate smiles on me," he says when the opportunity to face off
against Lord Naritsugu comes his way.
The film also relies on Miike's trademark use of violence. He
also gives each samurai a distinctive personality, deepening
interest in the characters.
The film comes to Venice competition with a strong production
pedigree behind it. Jeremy Thomas, the project's executive producer
who met Miike in Venice a few years ago, worked on Bernardo
Bertolucci's 1987 Oscar-winning film "The Last Emperor."
The film's other executive producer, Toshiaki Nakazawa, was
behind the film "Departures," which won the best foreign film
Oscar.
Miike was last in Venice with the 2007 film "Sukiyaki Western
Django," in which actor and director Quentin Tarantino had a
cameo.
Tarantino, a big fan of Miike's films, is president of this
year's jury, which will decide the winner of the Golden Lion on
Sept. 11.

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