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David L ReinkeAug. 17, 2015 - 12:42AM JST
We have been presenting Kabuki, in English, at the university of Hawai'i (and at other select universities) for years now, always to sold-out houses. This includes both classic plays (Chushingura, Kanjincho, Ibaraki) as well as fusion, or what we call 'imaginary kabuki' plays (Richard III, Revenge At Spider Mountain, The Emperor Of Mars).
That this production in Vegas enjoyed an audience of over 10,000 on Friday night is impressive but not completely surprising. Kabuki is a wonderful theatrical art form, full of life and energy. There is spectacle, but there is more, much more, for these are stories that delve deeply into the human condition -- love, sacrifice, the corruption of power -- themes that are universal.
Bravo on this initial success in Las Vegas, but the real question remains: Will traditional Kabuki prove as popular not only in Vegas but in the the wider US?
I think it can, but only if Shochiku, and its US partners, are willing to spend not just the money, but also the time to build an audience. If they are, then Kabuki could finds the US to be very receptive indeed.
Posted in: Kabuki show debuts at Las Vegas Bellagio as MGM eyes Japan
David L ReinkeJul. 06, 2015 - 10:08AM JST
I can not speak to the efficacy of the Japanese government's efforts to promote Japan, however...
Ignoring, for the moment, the monster in the room (Godzilla) I do know that when the University of Hawai'i mounted a production of The kabuki play Chushingura, under the direction of Nakamura Matagoro II, it played to sold out houses for three weeks in Honolulu (8 performances per week) a sold out tour if the neighbor islands and then a six week coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. each performance sold out. Likewise, our production of Kanjincho, under the direction of James R Brandon & Onoe Kikunobu, also enjoyed a sold out run in Honolulu.
The annual Anime Expo at the Los Angeke Convention Center just finished, once again enjoying robust attendance. At the 2010 convention a live stage show, by a troupe from Tokyo, of a ghost story performed in Japanese, was enthusiastically received by the standing room only audience.
Perhaps it is the case, as noted above, that the material selected and how it is presented, are the critical factors in their success or failure to attract an audience. Clearly the interest exists and their are audiences willing to pay to see good films, plays and works of art.
Can the Japanese government do more? No doubt.
I, for one, would love to see more Kabuki here in the US. The NHK used to broadcast, weekly, kabuki plays. They have a vast library of classic plays featuring some of the greatest actors to grace not just the Kabuki stage but any stage in the world. The government should make those recordings available, at a very attractive price, in the US market. Will they be as big as Godzilla? Perhaps not, but wth time and patience the will find a following here in the US.
Posted in: Gackt lashes out at Cool Japan: 'Almost no results of Japanese culture exported overseas'
David L ReinkeJun. 21, 2015 - 11:53PM JST
It is all about the money, and Hollywood listens closely to the cash register, after all, they call this "Show Business" for a reason.
So vote with your wallets. Go to those stories you want to be told.
That said, some stories really do work better on television. Stone's Alexander the Great is a case in point. Stone has recut the film half a dozen times now and still can not seem to get the film the way he wants it. This may be that the story of Alexander is simply too great to be told effectively even in a 3+ hour film. However, as an episodic series, like those on HBO, he just might be able to tell the story he wants to.
On the other hand, a film like Zack Snyder's 300, is all about the visuals and so works better on a larger canvas where the visuals can easily overwhelm the viewer.
As for the 70's being the "Golden Age" of cinema...
Yes, there were lots of great films in that decade, but the golden age?
In the 70's they were talking of the 40's as the golden age, and no doubt in the 2020's they will be looking at the 90's as the golden age.
It is story telling and every year there are stories well told and not.
Posted in: Superhero movies are ruining cinema, says 'Exorcist' director
David L ReinkeJun. 20, 2015 - 10:02AM JST
Sorcerer was an excellent film, a re-make of a great European film, but excellent in every respect.
For the director of The Exorcist to complain about the take over of Hollywood by fantasy films as opposed to those 'rooted in realty' rings just a tad bit hallow. Besides, it was Woody Allen's Annie Hall that won the Oscar for best film in 1977, not Star Wars.
That said, Friedkin is absolutely correct, some of the very best work is being done on television, particularly stories that require time to develop their plot and characters. We can hope that Friedkin does direct again.
David L ReinkeJun. 06, 2015 - 01:58AM JST
"Putting a white actor in a role for an Asian is just as ridiculous as casting an Asian actor to play a white person...."
I guess people feel differently about stage productions as opposed to films.
Denzel Washington gave an excellent performance as Mark Antony
As did Lawrence Olivier as Othello
So too Bando Tamasaburo as Lady MacBeth
In my brief theatrical career I was fortunate to be cast as Daimyo Wakasanosuke in the Kabuki play Chushingura. The play's director, Nakamura Matagoro II, said I had the perfect 'kabuki nose.' In fact our entire cast was quite mixed, both by race and gender. It is a reality of university theatre that there are often more women than men available for casting, so we had women cast in many of the male roles. No one, not the theatre critics in Hawai'i and the Mainland, or audiences anywhere, expressed any concerns about the casting.
Even in films, there seem to be 'levels of outrage' when it comes to race and casting.
Chinese actors were cast to play Japanese geisha in the film Memories Of A Geisha...
Mako playing a Chinese coolie in The Sand Pebbles
Or George Takei playing a Vietnamese officer in The Green Berets
I am told by a technical advisor who worked on Geisha that they cast the best actors they could find given not only the dramatic requirements of the part, but also the issue of language. Is this an example of that old saw that 'all Asians look alike'?
And not just Asians, for Eli Wallach played Latino in several films including The Magnificent Seven, but he is not even remotely Hispanic. So too Jennette Goldstein who played Private Vasquez, a Latina Space Marine, in Aliens.
Where is the outrage over this casting?
If strict ethnic casting were enforced in the theatre then so many great roles would be denied to so many great actors. Indeed, the world of Kabuki, a most marvelous art form, would be closed to me, and my life would be just that much more diminished.
Posted in: Cameron Crowe apologizes for casting Emma Stone in part-Asian role
David L ReinkeApr. 24, 2015 - 11:32PM JST
"Thew Force is strong with this collectible..." -- D. Vader
Posted in: Darth Vader becomes decorative doll for Boys’ Day
David L ReinkeApr. 10, 2015 - 10:01AM JST
Godzilla -- what's not to love?
Now that he is a resident of Tokyo, will he run for mayor?
Posted in: Godzilla appointed Tokyo resident, tourism ambassador
David L ReinkeMar. 17, 2015 - 01:04AM JST
And now for something completely different ...
I wish the console makers, in particular Sony PS, would consider resurrecting some of the old war game / strategy games formerly available only on a PC or Mac.
At E3, several years ago, that suggestion was floated to the game developers behind the city building games Caesar III & VI, Cleopatra and Zeus (among others). and their argument against was the poor resolution of the current systems (the PS2 and original Xbox.) They put a lot of detail into their games and they wanted them to be seen in all their high-rez glory.
Fair enough but now the argument holds no water. The PS is HD and the processor is easily powerful enough to handle any war game (which do not require much if any animation).
The developers at Riot Games told me that it was really a matter of surface area for game control/interface. In fact many of them played and enjoyed war games (a large number of them would meet one or twice a month to play 'old fashioned' map & counter and Euro-style strategy boardgames. So the interest is there, but they though the system design argued against such games on a console.
But I wonder ...
Now I do realize mine is a lonely voice in the wilderness, but I do think it is possible, technically, to convert some of the great old war games to the PS3 or 4 and I also believe these games would find an audience among console gamers ready for something different. Indeed, if such games were averrable, Sony might discover an entire new legion of gamers ready to join the PS ranks.
Just a wild thought on Monday morning ...
Posted in: The PS4 is selling like hot cakes all over the world…except in Japan. But why?
David L ReinkeDec. 21, 2014 - 09:29AM JST
At least Hollywood still has Nazis and Martians to play the bad guys. The Martians do not yet have a lobby, and no one is going to defend the Nazis.
Posted in: 'The Interview' jeopardizes overseas movie villains
David L ReinkeNov. 19, 2014 - 12:30AM JST
He was outstanding in the film Yakuza -- his performance was one of the high points of that film.
Posted in: Actor Ken Takakura dies at 83
David L ReinkeOct. 19, 2014 - 04:51PM JST
"The Force is strong with this book." -- D Vader.
Posted in: Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary for Padawan learners
David L ReinkeMar. 01, 2014 - 01:04AM JST
Come And See remains the most interesting and effective Russian film about The Great Patriotic War as the Soviets called it.
Posted in: Review: An epic battle gets blockbuster treatment
David L ReinkeJan. 31, 2014 - 01:36AM JST
Why not release Nintendo gamers on the PS4...?
The profits for all these companies is in the games and while Nintendo would have to pay Sony a fee to release on their platform, no doubt - given their extensive library of great titles, Nintendo could strike a very favorable deal with Sony.
Yes, I understand this is not how Nintendo wants to go, and there is a good deal of pride wrapped up in all of this, but ...
Posted in: Nintendo chief says he won't resign or cut prices despite dismal results
David L ReinkeJan. 28, 2014 - 01:25AM JST
The big seller in our toy department this year was LEGO, followed by Nerf, Monster High / Disney and Barbie Dolls and, as always Action Figures for all ages. Yes, we sold lots of Leap Pads and other electronic items, but LEGO was far and away the most popular item even though it generally costs more than other toys.
LEGO was selected as the Toy Of The Millennium, and for good reason.
Posted in: Toy story: Old favorites fight rise of the tablet
David L ReinkeDec. 31, 2013 - 05:04PM JST
He is also very good as Coriolanus.
Posted in: A minute with: Ralph Fiennes on Dickens, Shakespeare and Bond
David L ReinkeNov. 24, 2013 - 11:46AM JST
Actually, this is not necessarily a bad move. This is story telling and some stories work better as multi-episode series. Even at 3 hours, many stories are truncated and compressed to such an extent that they lose their impact, to say nothing of their poetry.
The BBC series I, Claudius is a prime example. Based upon two novels (I, Claudius and Claudius The God) the 13 part series did a wonderful job of bringing this story to life. An earlier attempt at a feature film (with Charles Laughton as Claudius) looks quite intriguing (what few scenes that were filmed and survived) but I have my doubts it would have done justice to the books by Robert Graves.
Likewise, the David Lynch film of Dune, while visually quite stunning and though featuring an excellent cast, presents more of a Reader's Digest version of the book by Frank Hurbert. Many might argue that the SCi-Fi channel's version is not as artistic as Lynch's film, but the series does do better by the story itself.
Episodic TV allows the story teller time to unfold and develop the story and the characters, time that a feature film simply will not allow for.
Now, do not misunderstand. I love going to the cinema and sitting in the dark before a HUGE screen and being enveloped in sights and sounds. A film like Return Of The King or* Stars Wars* would seem much diminished even in HD on a 60" monitor. However, by the same token, a 3-hour feature film of Rome or Game Of Thrones, really does not work either.
In the end, it is all about story telling and the teller must select the medium that works best for his story.
I do agree that Sony would do well to invest some of its money in writers, in making better films, for it all starts with the script. It will be interesting to see just where Sony takes this new initiative and what fruits their efforts bear. As always, time will tell.
Posted in: Sony to make fewer films as it shifts to television
David L ReinkeNov. 20, 2013 - 02:11AM JST
Other than the title and a few character names this has nothing at all to do with the Ako Ronin or the historical events that we now know as the 47 Ronin Story.
That said, there is little point in arguing "history" as every adaptation of the event, be it for the puppet theatre, kabuki, comic books, and the numerous films, have taken liberties with the story. This new film is perhaps the most "fantastical" take on the story and for those unfamiliar with any early version it will no doubt be a lot of fun.
For those schooled in the kabuki play, Chushingura, or fans of the 1962 film by Inagaki, this new 3D film will be something of a shock and likely a disappointment. Ah well...
Oh, and 3D ... Bah!
Posted in: Keanu Reeves explores world of samurai
David L ReinkeNov. 05, 2013 - 09:08AM JST
Yes, I did read that Toshiko-san, but I was hoping they would have more information on this drug's efficacy with regard to Type 1.
Ah well, we shall continue to live in hope for an effective alternative to insulin injections.
Posted in: Researchers move step closer to oral diabetes treatment
David L ReinkeNov. 04, 2013 - 03:10AM JST
And what about Type 1 ...?
Perhaps I missed it, but the article does not state if this oral drug will be effective for Type 1.
Once, while assisting my grandson with his insulin injection (he was diagnosed last year at age 11 with Type 1) my injection technique had obviously caused him some pain. I apologized for hurting him and he replied, "It hurts. It always hurts. It always will."
There is very promising work being done in Finland that might lead to a vaccine, but a cure .... who can say how long that will take.
David L ReinkeAug. 04, 2013 - 09:53AM JST
They do call it "show business" for a reason, however, that fact does not change the truth of what Clooney has said.
Frankly, I'm not surprised After Earth and White House Down failed -- indeed I'm surprised they even got green lighted for production. Of course what looks promising on the page does not always turn out to be so in film.
Star Wars was turned down by every studio in Hollywood until Alan Ladd Jr. took a risk on it, and even then 20th Century Fox was not happy with what George Lucas was doing. They have since changed their tune.
No doubt more BIG films will fail this summer and next, but we can also hope there is another Argo waiting in the wings.
That a film ever emerges from Hollywood, even a mediocre one, is miraculous. That occasionally it rises to the level of art is truly amazing. (Seven Samurai, Ran, Les Enfants du Paradis to name but a few.)
We can hope for more art among the weeds that choke our local cinemas.
Posted in: George Clooney takes aim at Sony investor Loeb over spin-off plan
Sep. 01, 2015 - 04:54PM JST
Just build lighthouses on each one.
Posted in: Defense ministry asks for record budget to defend southern islands
Had he not been served a meal with pork, but some other meat would he have…
Posted in: Muslim man accidentally served bacon while being detained at immigration center
Sep. 01, 2015 - 04:53PM JST
Reduced subway tolls?
Posted in: Amazon to launch video streaming service in Japan: Nikkei
Sep. 01, 2015 - 04:52PM JST
fxgai: "So, he doesn't repeat his last US Open performance, and you want to focus (like…
Posted in: Nishikori crashes out of U.S. Open in first round
Very disturbing thread, many dual-meaning posts... Anyway...
Ok they mixed up his food. That has happened…