An insight at Nishi: It has been said that Western art is the art of putting out and Oriental art is the art of leaving out. The Japanese movie “Fireworks” is like a Charles Bronson movie “Death Wish” so devoid of history, cliché, convention, and the plot that nothing is left except pure form and momentum. Not a frame, not a word, is excess. Takeshi Kitano, who did it, must have been very serene or very angry; only extreme states allow such a narrow focus.
The plot of Hana-bi
Kitano, who wrote, directed, and edited the film, also plays Nishi, a man who has only two emotional states are agony and ecstasy. At the beginning of the film, it is about a policeman whose little daughter died not long ago; now his wife is dying of leukemia. During surveillance, his partner Horibe (Ron Osugi) suggests that he go visit his wife in the hospital. He does, and while he is gone, another police officer is killed and Horibe is so badly injured that he will have to spend his life in a wheelchair.
The foundation(moods and violence) , Takeshi’s special
A cop movie would have focused on action. “Fireworks” reveals what happened only gradually, and at first, we even misinterpreted the source of the bullets. The film is not about action, but about consequences and moods. Nishi leaves the police force, and we suddenly learn that he is deeply in debt to the Yakuza loan sharks. How? Why? Without importance.
All those scenes that other movies find so urgent are swept up here. When Yakuza punk collectors arrive at a noodle shop to try to get money from Nishi, he stabs one in the eyeball with a toothpick, so suddenly and in such a brief shot that we can hardly believe our eyes.
Synthesis of attitudes
Nishi cares deeply for his wife, Miyuki (Kayoko Kishimoto), and craves to spend time with her. Rob a bank to get the necessary cash. They do childish things together, like playing with a girl’s kite they meet on the beach. Sometimes they dissolve in laughter. But when a stranger laughs at Miyuki for trying to water dead flowers, Nishi brutally beats him. And when more Yakuza collectors arrive, Nishi explodes again.
The pattern of the film is Ordinary everyday life, marked by acute and clinical episodes of violence. Nishi hardly speaks (there is little dialogue in the film) and his face shows almost no expression (reportedly due to Kitano’s injuries in a motorcycle accident). It is like a blank slate that absorbs the events of the film without giving any sign that it has recorded them. When it attacks, it does not give any warning; the wrong trigger word releases your anger.
Therefore, I suppose that Nishi is a psychotic, a dangerous madman. To read his behavior in another way, such as “protecting his wife,” for example, would be childish. Sane people don’t behave like that. And his wife, who barely says six words in the film and who seems unaffected by his brutal behavior, shares in the family madness.
But that’s not really the point: this is not a clinical study, but a synthesis of attitudes. In Kitano’s bipolar universe, you are content when the world leaves you alone, and when it doesn’t, you fight back.
In front of this swing of yin and yang, there is a stabilizing character: Horibe, the man in a wheelchair. He paints naive but colorful and haunting images of people with flowery faces. At one point, his wheelchair is on the seashore and we anticipate suicide when the tide goes out, but he is a man who has found some accommodation with life and will endure it.
Nishi, on the other hand, has adopted such an uncompromising and uncompromising attitude towards the world that we believe, sooner or later he will destroy it.
The movie is a strange visual experience. It lacks all of the storytelling cushions and the grip we’d hoped for. It doesn’t explain, because an explanation, after all, is just something arbitrary that history has made up.
“Fireworks” is a demonstration of what a story like this is really about, primarily after removing the background noise.