Takeshi Kitano (北野 武 Kitano Takeshi, born 18 January 1947) is a Japanese comedian, television personality, director, actor, author, and screenwriter. While he is known primarily as a comedian and TV host in his native Japan, abroad he is known exclusively for his filmwork. With the exception of his works as a film director, he is known almost exclusively by the stage name Beat Takeshi (ビートたけし Bīto Takeshi). Kitano rose to prominence in the 1970s as one half of the comedy duo Two Beat, before going solo and becoming one of the three biggest comedians in the country. After several small acting roles, he made his directorial debut with 1989's Violent Cop and garnered international acclaim for Sonatine (1993). But he was not accepted as a director in Japan until Hana-bi won the Golden Lion in 1997. He has received critical acclaim for his idiosyncratic cinematic work, winning numerous awards with Japanese film critic Nagaharu Yodogawa having once dubbed him "the true successor" to influential filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Many of Kitano's films are dramas about yakuza gangsters or the police. Described by critics as using an acting style that is highly deadpan or a camera style that approaches near-stasis, Kitano often uses long takes where little appears to be happening, or editing that cuts immediately to the aftermath of an event. Many of his films express a bleak or nihilistic philosophy, but they are also filled with humor and affection for their characters.