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With ‘Blade of the Immortal,’ Takashi Miike delivers his 100th film

Takashi Miike has a recurring dream. In it he’s flying low to the ground, at a slow speed. Somehow when he was younger, he remembered one recent morning in Los Angeles, he had soared higher in his slumber.

“Now I want to get back to where I can fly high again,” the Japanese auteur mused, “and I just can’t get there.”

Miike might strive for loftier heights in his dreams, but in his waking life he hardly makes time for regrets. At 57, the Osaka-born director best known stateside for shocking and ultraviolent films like “Audition” and “Ichi the Killer,” is one of the most prolific creators in cinematic history.

He got his start working as assistant director to Japanese legend Shohei Imamura in the late 1980s on films like “Zegen” and “Black Rain.” Changing times and Japan’s “V-cinema” wave of home video genre fare brought new opportunities. Miike made his move into directing in the early 1990s, churning out low-budget, direct-to-video gangster films and action-comedies at a lightning pace, and never let up.

“The film is almost making [me], and pulling [me] into it and saying, ‘This is what I want to be.’ The cuts, the edits, all of that is the result of the film wanting to be made — the film making itself, with the facilitation of the director, based on the interactions of all the players.”

“The way that I make films, it’s always very visceral and directly connected to the emotion,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t go to film school very much. So the way that I know to make films is by finding that connection with the audience, looking at how they’re going to react, and just creating things from a visceral direct feeling. And that’s not something that I’m creating artificially; that is just who I am.”

Miike, who was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year, is showing no signs of slowing; he’s already working on his next two films back home. But even as he charges forward, that recurring dream has him longing for the past.

“The feeling I get from those dreams is that I would really like to go back to when I was a child,” he said. “That was when I enjoyed the pure enjoyment and fun of movies the most.”

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