Although Takashi Miike doesn’t speak a word of English, he effortlessly commands the focus of a conference room in Seattle’s hip “W” Hotel. The Japanese director of “Audition” and “Agitator” is weathering a series of interviews, with an interpreter standing by to decipher questions. Outside, the chameleonic Puget Sound skies are morphing from cloudy gray to clear blue, in much the same way that Miike’s unpredictable films twist from one extreme to another.

Take “Dead or Alive”, where a distraught policeman mourns the wrongful deaths of his wife and child late into the still, somber night, moments before facing off in a comic bazooka battle that literally blows up the world. Even more dramatic is “Audition”’s cruel, sneaky transition from light, domestic romance into the most horrifying onscreen torture sequence of all time. By refusing to follow conventional expectations, Miike blind-sides us with grotesque shocks that come straight out of left field and resonate like nightmares.

In person, Miike radiates playful, irreverent charisma, his mouth stretching into a mischievous grin from time to time. The director’s locks have been cut short and dyed orange. The blue-tinted shades that hide his eyes convey a futuristic, “Terminator”-style sensibility and give the filmmaker a menacing, bug-like appearance. Meanwhile, a black leather biker’s jacket enshrouds Miike’s compact frame. He looks like a rabble- rousing rock star, fresh off some Tokyo stage.

Get the interview in part two of TAKASHI MIIKE ON PINS AND NEEDLES>>>

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