Wednesday, November 18, 2020

An Ultra-Afternoon with an Ultra-Director!

Eizo Yamagiwa in his home. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I had the distinct privilege today of conducting a lengthy interview with Ultra-series director Eizo Yamagiwa in his home. We covered a variety of topics -- not just on his work on the '70s Ultra-series, but also going back to working at Shintoho in the 1950s. We covered all that and much more.

It was a very enlightening interview with one of the most accomplished directors in TV tokusatsu history.  I'm very excited to share it on Vantage Point Interviews in the near future.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Interviewing a Screenwriting Legend!

Fumio Ishimori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

This afternoon, I had a fun and enlightening time interviewing longtime screenwriter Fumio Ishimori, whose screenwriting career dates back to the early 1960s. I learned a lot about his experiences, and I can't wait to share them in the finished interview.

Ishimori-san has several tokusatsu credits to his name, including Kamen Rider (1971-73), Ultraman Ace (1972-73), Zone Fighter (1973), and the Toho action/horror flick Crest of the Wolf (1973). All these topics and much more were covered in the interview. When it's eventually published, I'll share the link here. Watch this space.

Friday, October 30, 2020

New Content at Vantage Point Interviews!

With Yoshinobu Kaneko in May 2013.

Three new interviews are now up on Vantage Point Interviews. The latest one is my May 2013 interview with former child actor Yoshinobu Kaneko, whom you probably know as the little boy eager to catch of glimpse of Godzilla in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). But he's done so much more than that -- even starring in several Taiwanese-made fantasy films!

With Nobuyuki Yasumaru in December 2018.

The next interview is with renowned kaiju suitmaker Nobuyuki Yasumaru. Yasumaru-san goes into great detail to describe the suitmaking process.

With Keizo Murase in April 2019.

And, while we're on the subject of kaiju suitmakers, here's another interview with the legendary Keizo Murase, who describes more of his suitmaking work over the years.

Now you know why content is king at Vantage Point Interviews!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Tokyo's King of Jazz Is Back!

Shinichi Yanagisawa on the drums. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tuesday, October 20, saw my first visit to the HUB Asakusa since February. It was long overdue. The April and June shows were cancelled due to COVID-19, but I was surprised to find out (after the fact) that the August actually happened. For a variety of reasons, I just assumed that performance would have been postponed, as well, so I didn't even bother to check to see if it would happen. Suffice it to say, I really regretted that.

As a result, I made it a point to attend the October performance of Shinichi Yanagisawa and His Swing All-Stars. Attendance was much smaller than usual (for obvious reasons), but the usual attendees were all there. It was also great to see Yanagisawa-san again for the first time since February. Yanagisawa-san, of course, is one of the stars of The X from Outer Space (1967).

Shinichi Yanagisawa after the show. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The performance ended a bit earlier than usual, which given the situation, isn't all that surprising. I'm just glad they're still happening at all. I certainly hope all goes well for the next concert in two months. If it's still on, I plan to be there.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Seeing Godzilla vs. Biollante!

Kazuki Omori and Megumi Odaka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a screening of the Heisei Godzilla series classic Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) in 35mm, which is usually considered one of the best entries in the entire series. I was privileged to attend another screening of the film a while back, but I'm glad I got to see this one, too. Naturally, I enjoyed the film immensely, and I agree that it is certainly one of the very best after the Showa era.

But that wasn't all! Also in attendance for the event were writer-director Kazuki Omori and Miki Saegusa actress Megumi Odaka. Their presence at the event certainly added a great deal to what made it special.

Kazuki Omori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Omori-san talked about watching tokusatsu as a youngster, including every episode of Ultra Q (1966) at the time it aired. A bit later, I enjoyed asking him about working with the Western cast members in both Biollante and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.

All in all, it was a great day seeing a great movie in the company of some great folks. October has already proven to be the busiest month in a long time, but it's not over yet! More to come.

An Evening with Mr. Director!

After work on Saturday, October 17, I attended a small event with director Kazuki Omori, who of course wrote and directed several entries in the Heisei Godzilla series. I arrived while the proceedings were already in progress, so I missed a good portion of it. It was a nice time, but it was really the next day that was the standout event. More on that in the next post. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Lost World of Rashomon!

Signage outside the National Film Archive of Japan. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I took in a screening of the Toho fantasy actioner The Lost World of Sinbad (1963) at the National Film Archive of Japan, which was shown as part of its current "Toshiro Mifune Retrospective at His Centenary" film program. I hadn't seen the film since the early 2000s, which is when I wrote a fanzine article on it. The Lost World of Sinbad has never been my favorite tokusatsu film, and I think writing that article made me permanently sick of it. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say.

A replica of the flag from Seven Samurai. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I give the movie credit for its lavish production values and all-star cast, but it otherwise feels flat and uninspired. Still, it looked glorious in 35mm, and hearing Masaru Sato's masterful score was a treat.

 After watching the film, I visited the NFAJ's "Rashomon at the 70th Anniversary" exhibit, which had  a lot of interesting memorabilia from the film, including the scripts used by Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, and script supervisor Teruyo Nogami on display. I found this exhibit much more interesting than the Shochiku one I visited a couple of months ago. It was certainly a fascinating morning and afternoon spent with the works of Toshiro Mifune.