Getting Any? (1995)
It sometimes comes as a surprise to people when they learn that Takeshi Kitano is best known in Japan as a comedian. The man with the most deadpan expression ever is mainly known for his gangster movies in the West, and for the sometimes shocking portrayal of violence they contain. I'm surprised that people are surprised though, because even his most hardboiled gangster movies contain a strain of deadpan absurdist humour that is at least as characteristic of his films as the violence. Maybe a lot of people simply miss the humour.
Watching GETTING ANY? it's hard to imagine anybody missing the fact it is a comedy though, as it is anything but subtle. Actually maybe that's not true - the humour is still often times subtle, but the movie as a whole is unmissably surreal and absurd.
The premise is simple. A not too bright loser has but one thing on his mind - getting laid. He really hasn't got much of a clue how one goes about this, though, and the movie largely concerns his increasingly stupid schemes to get some. First on the list... get a car. Should be simple enough, right? Not for this guy. His plans get more and more ludicrous as the movie progresses, and lead him into some ridiculous and sometimes hilarious situations.
This is without a doubt the strangest movie Kitano has done, and it's as wild and inventive as any movie that springs to mind except maybe the odd Jeff Lau or Stephen Chiau film. The movie plays like a strung together sequence of sketches parodying numerous movies and cultural elements, rather like a Japanese Monty Python film. Like Monty Python, it's clear that there's a keen intelligence behind all the stupidity.
The movie is not without flaws, unfortunately - chief of which is that it loses focus for a long time around the half way mark. Our hero gets himself into a couple of dire situations and for some time the whole purpose of his adventure (getting some) is forgotten. It's still funny and ridiculous, but dilutes the experience somewhat and drags on a little too long. It perhaps becomes a little too absurd for its own good in the second half, coming too close to simply being random.
GETTING ANY? is a fairly lightweight contribution to Kitano's resume, but one so totally opposed to his unique style of film-making shown in films like Sonatine and HANA-BI that it simply had to be made. Kitano is far more than a one trick pony, even though it's mainly for one trick that he's known in the west. Unfortunately, GETTING ANY is probably altogether too strange to have widespread appeal in the US, and won't do much to broaden peoples' perception of him.