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Kitano Takeshi. London: British Film Institute, 2007, 272 pp., with photos. £16.99 (paper)

This is a brilliant book on a mercurial subject. Takeshi Kitano is an actor and film director, ubiquitous on television as well, who has become a media event. His persona has splintered and he stands Janus-faced over Japanese entertainment. He has two names (Beat Takeshi and Takeshi Kitano), is both a clown and a sage, a radical renegade and a conservative artist, a raggle-taggle TV comic and a maker of admired art-films. Protean, shape-shifting, he seems to defy description.

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