Directed by Takashi Miike | Japan | 113 mins.
Beginning his career in the quantity-over-quality world of the Japanese straight-to-video market, where cheap genre features had to be knocked off quickly and regularly with as little fuss as possible, Takashii Miike seized the attention of international critics and cineastes when his films began screening regularly at major festivals in the late 1990s. He is known for routinely knocking out, as at the heights of his productivity, as many as seven or eight features a year. These include such outré cult favourites as the Dead or Alive trilogy (1999-2002), Audition (1999), and Ichi the Killer (2001). The Happiness of the Katakuris arrived on the scene in the middle of Miike’s most productive period at century’s turn. It is a wholly-unfaithful-in-tone remake of the Korean film The Quiet Family (1998), telling the darkly comic story of a family of innkeepers whose guests keep dying and need to be disposed of. The Happiness of the Katakuris turns this grisly saga into a defiantly upbeat musical, and though it is hardly as shocking or whimsically confrontational as some of Miike’s best known work, it is nonetheless the perverse product of a delightfully twisted mind. What is it really about? Life, it insists, ought to be a joy.
- Written by Jason Wierzba