Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto by Tom Mes

 Few Japanese directors have made as big an impact on independent Japanese cinema as cyberpunk extraordinaire Shinya Tsukamoto especially with his genre defining film Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and its first sequel Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992).  Most of his films have been independently financed making each one of his subsequent productions a unique film going experience and a look into the inner workings of a truly independent film maker.  Writer Tom Mes gets into the heart of Tsukamoto’s films and his inspirations in his book Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto.
Like most directors Tsukamoto got his start with short films (which he continues to this day) and graduated to features.  Mes’ book charts Tsukamoto’s rise from his days in the theatre up to his most recent films.  Each film gets its own chapter in the book in order for Mes to take each film on its own terms.  As Mes charts each film it’s impossible to separate the film from the man as Tsukamoto puts a piece of himself into every one of his films not only by acting in them (as in Tetsuo: The Iron Man and The Phantom of Regular Size and Bullet Ballet) but through the use of family (as his brother for Tokyo Fist)  and friends such as Takashi Oda for special make up effects (Hiruko The Goblin, Bullet Ballet, Gemini, A Snake of June).
Mes does a great job at breaking down each of the films for both those who have seen the films and those who have not (but will end up wanting to see them).  He also allows Tsukamoto himself to discuss each of the films and there are plenty of opportunities for Tsukamoto to elaborate on his process and methods.
Mes’ book is not just another book about a film maker and his films but it is a book about the man Tsukamoto himself and how his films have become an extension of himself.  The book provides a profound amount of production stills as well to demonstrate his ideas and show key moments in his films.  Mes’ book is one of the finest of its kind and will be a great addition to anyone’s library.

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