Only Thing That Tries To Break Through This Darkness Is The Sometimes Bright Neon Lights
When you dishonor your boss
and you want to show remorse,
you give your finger.
It’s called otoshimae.
I see you’ve got all your fingers.
Even though I don’t have any affinity with Japanese culture as such and mostly ignore Asian films, I couldn’t resist giving “The Outsider” a chance. Not only because of the fact that Jared Leto is playing in it (a colorful actor who reminds me of Johnny Depp and because of his role as The Joker in “Suicide Squad” can join the club of quirky Hollywood actors), but also because of the central theme of the Yakuza families. I wondered if this could be another successful Netflix original.
I don’t know much about Japanese culture. Only the term Yakuza is known to me. You can see it as the Japanese version of the Italian Mafia. The only difference with their Italian counterparts is that the Yakuza members are an epitome of inner calmness and adopt an intimidating attitude by using ice-cold, angry looks and a threatening, non-loud tone during their conversations. Quite different from the Italian mafia members, who usually want to make an impression by shouting and intense gesticulating while making their point, after which a rival gets a concrete pedestal and they dump him in some Italian river. So I prepared myself for a Japanese-colored “Godfather“-like movie.
Extremely slow pacing.
The first thing you could criticize is the pace of the film. “The Outsider” is extremely slow at times, indeed. But doesn’t that suite the entire Japan concept? After all, members of the Yakuza families themselves use a certain pace in their conversations by using impressive silences between sentences. On the one hand to show respect. On the other hand maybe also to increase the impact of used words. Have you ever seen a Geisha passing by? They aren’t exactly a paragon of speed. And to be honest, if this movie had lasted an extra hour, I wouldn’t have minded that either. And that’s because of the other positivities you can find in “The Outsider” .
A white Yakuza member. Possible or not?
First of all, I thought the acting of the entire cast was marvelous on all fronts. The mix of authentic Japanese who speak their own language for most of the film instead of constantly using broken, bad-sounding English and the acting of Jared Leto was simply stunning. How Nick Lowell ended up in an Osaka prison, remained a mystery to me. He’s the only English-speaking prisoner and is surrounded by mainly Yakuza gang members. Rescuing the Yakuza Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano) from a perilous, life-threatening situation gives him a ticket to freedom. And that’s when he chooses to gradually integrate into the Yakuza family. Not an easy task since the members of this Yakuza family aren’t really hospitable and are rather resentful towards white strangers (a Gaijin). However, I wonder if, in reality, a Westerner would get a chance to be included in such a Yakuza-family. I doubt it.
The used cinematography in ‘The Outsider’ was also generally sublime. Maybe a little too dark at certain moments, such as the prison scenes, for example. But in general, the setting in this post-war Japan is really impressive. A mysterious metropolis with dark, narrow alleys, clubs where Sumo wrestlers compete and smoky night clubs. The only thing that tries to break through this darkness is the sometimes bright neon lights.
Expect some violent scenes too. You can’t do without it in a gangster movie, I guess. There are quite a few victims. Lots of gunshots and knives carving around. Even a self-mutilation scene where a few fingers are sacrificed isn’t missing.
The acting of Jared Leto was superb.
My limited knowledge of Asian film material and Japanese customs made sure everything came across as fairly authentic to me. Others, who immersed themselves in this matter, may have noticed imperfections. And perhaps the content has all been done before. I even read somewhere that there was a lot of fuss about casting Jared Leto. And the term “whitewashing” came up. Didn’t we have the same discussion about Matt Damon’s contribution to “The Great Wall“? By the way, I thought Jared Leto was suitable for this role as the silent (probably because he doesn’t speak the language), cold-blooded and emotionless Nick. He reminded me a bit of Keanu Reeves in “47 Ronin“. Only the speed with which he was accepted in the Shiromatsu Yakuza clan, seemed greatly exaggerated. And the emotional relationship between Nick and Miyu (Shioli Kutsuna) felt like a mandatory item.
But just as I scoured the internet for information about “The Zodiac Killer” after watching the movie “Zodiac“, I couldn’t resist consulting Wikipedia about the Yakuza phenomenon. That means this film also left an impression. If slow crime movies about the Mafia interest you, and this in a Japanese environment, then I can definitely recommend this movie to you.
You can watch The Outsider on Netflix now!
My rating 7/10
Ruth Negga Set to Co-Star with Jake Gyllenhaal in AppleTV+ Series, ‘Presumed Innocent’
After the holiday season, we finally have some news to report in the world of film and television! According to an exclusive from Deadline, Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga (Loving, Passing) is set to co-star in the AppleTV+ series, Presumed Innocent along with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Negga will join the ranks of many other stars recently attaching themselves to Apple streaming series including Brie Larson, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton and Harrison Ford. Interestingly enough, Presumed Innocent is a television adaptation of the 1990 film starring the latter Ford, whose part will be played by Gyllenhaal in the series for the streamer. The series follows a horrifying murder that takes place in Chicago when the Chicago’s Prosecutor’s Office gets turned upside down when one of its own becomes the prime suspect. Negga will play Barbara Sabich, an artist, gallerist, mother and wife who is married to Gyllenhaal’s character. The role of Barbara was played by Bonnie Bedelia in the original movie.
The series, which has been a hot package since Gyllenhaal has been in discussions to star, is also set to have creative forces such as David E. Kelley and J.J. Abrams behind it. Kelley will act as showrunner, writer and executive producer for the show while Abrams will also act as an executive producer. Anne Sewitsky (A Very British Scandal, Black Mirror) will direct the first two episodes.
Negga most recently earned a Tony nomination for her role in Macbeth on Broadway alongside Daniel Craig. She also has an Oscar-nomination for her starring role in Loving. Negga last starred in Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut, Passing, in 2021 and will also star in Dan Levy’s directorial debut, Good Grief which is currently filming.
Matt Damon and Casey Affleck to Reunite for Heist Film, ‘The Instigators’ at Apple
After previously collaborating in the Ocean’s trilogy and Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon (The Martian, The Departed) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea, Gone Baby Gone) are set to lead another heist film for Apple titled The Instigators. According to an exclusive from Deadline, the two actors will star in the film as two thieves who must go on the run with one of their therapists after a bank robbery gone wrong. It truly sounds like a mixture of the heist elements of the Ocean’s films with some therapeutic elements reminiscent of Good Will Hunting along the way whilst on the run.
While there are no casting details on who will be the therapist this time around, we can confirm that Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity) will direct the film. The package was highly coveted by multiple streamers with Apple putting up the cash to make the deal happen and bring in even more star power to their Apple Original Films banner. It’s a good relationship to get started as Damon and Casey’s big brother, Ben Affleck recently announced their new production banner, Artists Equity with The Instigators being announced as one of their first projects in development. Chuck MacLean, who created the recently cancelled Boston-set cop drama, City on a Hill, will write the script.
Damon has always been very active in the film industry, but his upcoming slate is one that would excite almost any movie fan. First, Damon will appear in the Christopher Nolan atomic bomber biopic, Oppenheimer, where Peaky Blinders star, Cillian Murphy plays the titular J. Robert Oppenheimer. Damon is just one of the stars of the remarkable ensemble that has been assembled by Nolan which also includes Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Gary Oldman, Casey Affleck and Rami Malek, just to name a few. Additionally, the first project announced for the Artists Equity production company, is Air Jordan, a film in which Ben Affleck and Damon play the shoe salesmen who helped lure Michael Jordan to Nike. The latter will be the first feature directed by Affleck since his gangster flick, Live by Night back in 2016.
On the other hand, Casey Affleck, who won the Academy Award for Lead Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea has mostly floated under the radar since then. The younger Affleck does have a two-hander music biopic, Dreamin’ Wild in the can co-starring with Zooey Deschanel that is awaiting wide release. He’s also set to lead the next Joe Wright film, Stoner and star alongside Laurence Fishburne in the sci-fi film, Slingshot.
Taron Egerton to Re-Team with ‘Black Bird’ Collaborators for AppleTV+ Series, ‘Firebug’ based on Famous Arsonist
Big day for news at Apple as it appears that Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Rocketman) will re-team with his Black Bird team returning to AppleTV+ for a new crime series, Firebug according to an exclusive from Deadline.
Firebug will bring Egerton back into the fold as Dennis Lehane (Black Bird, The Outsider) will reunite to create this series in which the actor will star as John Leonard Orr. Orr was an infamous investigator of arson and former firefighter, and the series will see Egerton following two serial arsonists trying to take down the fiery culprits. Lehane has written many novels based on some of the more famous and well-renowned drama features of modern times such as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island. Egerton will be joined by another detective who has yet to be cast in the chase for the two arsonists committing the crimes.
Black Bird just garnered two Critics Choice Awards nominations for Paul Walter Hauser and the late Ray Liotta, who portrayed Egerton’s father in the series. Within the series also based on true events, Egerton plays Jimmy Keene who goes to jail for drug possession before cutting a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer (played by Hauser). Additionally, Egerton will also star in the upcoming feature film, Tetris: The Movie for Apple and appear in the Netflix film, Carry On alongside Jason Bateman in 2023.
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