Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

TOHO MINI REUNION! Dinner with Three Studio Alumni!

Yours truly with SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano.

Tonight, I attended a wonderful dinner with three Toho alumni. One of the guests of honor was SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano, a man I've blogged about many times on this site.  

Yours truly with Takashi Naganuma.

Another guest of the evening was Takashi Naganuma, an SFX crew member at Toho from the 1970s through the 1990s. Naganuma-san is always one of my favorites to visit.

It was great to speak with director Tom Kotani again after several months. (I hadn't seen him since last November.)

Not much else to say, other than it was fun. Many thanks to all involved!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

PAYING RESPECTS TO AKIRA KUROSAWA! Visiting the Celebrated Director's Grave in Kamakura!

 Akira Kurosawa's final resting place in Anyoin Temple. Photo by Brett Homenick.

One of the places I'd wanted to visit in Japan for some time was Akira Kurosawa's grave in Kamakura. Kurosawa, of course, is the famed Toho director who brought such classics as Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), and Ran (1985) to the big screen. He is the most famous film director Japan has ever produced. 

Actor Shigeo Kato offers a gift to director Kurosawa. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Given that retired actor Shigeo Kato lives in the area, I phoned him up and set up a meeting. When I arrived in Kamakura, I asked him about going to Anyoin Temple to visit Kurosawa's grave. Kato-san knew exactly where to go, so off we went.

Shigeo Kato worked with Akira Kurosawa numerous times. He has a speaking role in Ikiru (1952) as a government bureaucrat, and he appears as a farmer in Seven Samurai (1954). He even appears in Kurosawa's final film, Madadayo (1993) as the stationmaster.

Shigeo Kato speaks with a visitor to the cemetery. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Along the way, Kato-san suggested that we purchase flowers to leave as a gift. I thought that was a great idea. We stopped at a local flower shop and each picked some up (which I dutifully paid for). We kept walking until we arrived at the temple.

Shigeo Kato at Akira Kurosawa's final resting place. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

When we arrived at the temple's cemetery (which is in a slightly different location from the temple proper), we placed the flowers in the appropriate place. Then we each offered our prayers to the late director.

Interestingly, while Kato-san and I were there, we happened to be joined by another American movie fan who also wanted to see Kurosawa's grave. Even more interestingly, he recognized me from my various writings on Japanese movies. I introduced him to Kato-san, and we all took our requisite photos.

After visiting Kurosawa's grave, Kato-san and I went to a coffee shop for some refreshments. I asked him about his small role in Battle in Outer Space (1959) as one of the conductors on the doomed train that crashes when the Natal aliens lift up the bridge. As it turns out, Kato-san doesn't remember the film at all! Otherwise, we talked about Kato-san's favorite directors, among whom are Kurosawa, Ishiro Honda, Yasuki Chiba, and Shiro Moritani, and also about which Japanese directors and actors were famous in the U.S.

Thank you very much, Kato-san, for making the day one I'll never forget! (Thank you also for the birthday card!)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

MORE SHOTS! Our Tokusatsu Exhibit in Chofu!

Here are a few extra pictures from the "Bokutachi no Tokusatsu!" ("Our Tokusatsu!") exhibit at the Chofu City Cultural Hall.

OUR TOKUSATSU! Chofu City's Special Exhibit on Japanese SFX!

From March 5 until March 12, an exhibit entitled "Bokutachi no Tokusatsu!" (roughly, "Our Tokusatsu!") was held in Chofu, Tokyo, at the Chofu City Cultural Hall. Because of a last-minute cancellation, I found myself with some extra time today and was able to check out the exhibit firsthand. A picture truly does speak a thousand words, so I'll let them do the talking.

KONG VS. GODZILLA! Well, Sort Of...

Don't you just love it when the unexpected happens? Photo by Brett Homenick.

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Kong: Skull Island, Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku has found a clever way to advertise the SFX extravaganza from Legendary Pictures. A few shots (including one taken at night) are provided for your amusement. Enjoy!

THE ULF-MAN COMETH! A Day with a Godzilla Series Legend!

Earlier tonight, as I often do, I visited actor Ulf Otsuki at his home, and together we watched another Hollywood classic. This time, it was Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Ulf-san is a big admirer of Gary Cooper, and this film was particularly moving for him.

After that, we went out for dinner at our usual haunt and talked about a variety of subjects, from his acting career to the world of American politics. As always, it was a blast!

TAC IS BACK AGAIN! An Evening with Mitsuhiro Sano!

Mitsuhiro Sano poses with a friend. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

The night after visiting Shunichi Okita's establishment, I went to the bar owned by Ultraman Ace actor Mitsuhiro Sano (a.k.a. Koyo Sano) on the evening of March 11. Sano-san played TAC member Kozo Yoshimura on Ultraman Ace (1972-73) and has guested on numerous tokusatsu shows over the years.

Singing karaoke with a TAC member! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Sano-san and I followed our usual routine of trading karaoke songs. We did an impromptu duet of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which was followed up by Sano-san's rendition of "500 Miles" by Peter, Paul & Mary. Sano-san also performed "Massachusetts" by the Bee Gees (which has become a staple of these get-togethers), while I tried my hand at "Stayin' Alive" (with lackluster results). 

It was another fun evening with a super-friendly gentleman, and I can't wait to do it all over again!