Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

TAKASHI SHIMIZU

In the spring of 2004, I traveled to New York to deliver a lecture at Columbia University, visit some old friends, and generally catch up on life in the city where I spent the sixties and seventies, deeply immersed in the culture of the cinema. As luck would have it, the Walter Reade Theatre was screening Takashi Shimizu's supernatural thriller The Grudge (2003), the first 35mm version of a project that Shimizu had seen through two previous video incarnations and one additional 35mm version. (It has now been remade as an English-language film, financed by Sam Raimi and distributed through Columbia Pictures.) I had long wanted to see the film, and The Grudge surprised me in nearly every way. Although it is a genuinely suspenseful and unnerving exploration into the realm of the supernatural, most of its effects are achieved entirely through suggestion, camera movement, and intercutting for suspense, much like the classic Val Lewton films for RKO in the forties, with appropriate hints of Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi.

I was deeply curious about the aesthetic that informed the creation of the film. Through a series of friends and intermediaries, and the kindness of Columbia's production offices in Los Angeles, I was able to contact Shimizu. Because he does not speak English, my written questions were translated by members of his staff. Shimizu responded to my queries by dictating his answers into a tape recorder during the production and post-production of the 2004 Englishlanguage version of The Grudge, which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, and Clea DuVall. Shoichi Gregory Kamei then translated the responses into English to create this completed interview. I want to thank Natalie Johnson, Marisa McGrath, Ian Shive, and most especially Stephanie Phillips of Sony Columbia Pictures for their help in making this interview possible.

As Kamei notes about his translation, “This is not a literal translation of Mr. Shimizu's speech. The goal was to capture the content of what he said and to be as faithful as possible with the spirit in which those words were spoken. However, replicating the tone of someone's speech, especially across languages

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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