Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH! A Special Screening with Very Special Guests!

Writer-director Kazuki Omori (left) and actor Koichi Ueda (right) reminisce about making Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I attended a great screening of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) in 35mm. Attending the screening were writer-director Kazuki Omori and actor Koichi Ueda.

Director Kazuki Omori describes filming Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The film print was showing some wear and tear, but overall it looked very good. I hadn't seen the film in its entirety for a long time, so there were a few things I'd forgotten. Overall, despite some glaring SFX flaws, I think the film holds up well.  

Actor Koichi Ueda recalls his many Godzilla films. Photo by Brett Homenick.

This was my second time meeting Koichi Ueda. I first met him two years ago at the memorial event for Koichi Kawakita at Toho Studios. I found him to be a kind, soft-spoken gentleman at the time, and that impression was only reinforced at this event. 

Yours truly in between Kazuki Omori and Koichi Ueda. 

Godzilla fans may know Koichi Ueda from his various supporting roles in the Godzilla series (he appears in every Godzilla film between Godzilla vs. Biollante and Godzilla: Final Wars), and general audiences may recognize him from his turns in prestige pictures like Shall We Dance? (1996), but Ueda-san actually got his start in acting by apprearing in tokusatsu TV programs. With appearances in series like Kaiju Booska (1966-67), Ultra Seven (1967-68), Ultraman Taro (1973-74), Jumborg Ace (1973), and even Barom-1 (1972), among others, it's interesting to note that Ueda-san's tokusatsu career isn't more appreciated in the West.

Ueda-san had to leave a bit early, but I was able to spend a bit of time in his company. He's a very soft-spoken gentleman, much different from his onscreen role in King Ghidorah as the Lagos Island veteran who yells about the existence of dinosaurs through a loudspeaker.

Over the past couple of days, I've been able to spend quite a bit of time in Kazuki Omori's company, and even though I've met him twice before, I've never seen him in a better mood. Of course, I last met him at Koichi Kawakita's memorial event at Toho Studios, and it's easy to see why a person might not be in the best of spirits at such an occasion. So it's a very positive difference. It certainly made for an incredible weekend!

SHOOT! Meeting Filmmakers from Godzilla and Gamera's Heisei Series!

 Yours truly with Godzilla series director and screenwriter Kazuki Omori.

Last night, I was privileged to attend a special dinner event with two special guests. The main guest was Kazuki Omori, the writer-director of Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), and the screenwriter for Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). The event centered around the movie Shoot (1994), which stars members of the idol group SMAP. 

Cinematographer Kenji Takama. Photo by Brett Homenick.

 Also on hand for the event was cinematographer Kenji Takama, who filmed the movie Shoot. Among tokusatsu fans, however, he'd be better known for serving as cinematographer on Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), as well as on Cross Fire (2000).

I had a great talk with Takama-san about several topics. He studied cinematography in Los Angeles and New York on several major films, including Tootsie (1982) and Blue Thunder (1983). Takama-san was on set for these films and learned cinematography techniques directly from Hollywood's best. We even talked about the San Diego Zoo! It's always fun talking about random subjects with the people who made tokusatsu films.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

SURELY YOU GESTE! Another Evening with the Ulf-Man!

Actor Ulf Otsuki at our usual Indian restaurant. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

After attending the event earlier today, I headed to actor Ulf Otsuki's home, and we took in another Hollywood classic. This time, it was the Gary Cooper vehicle Beau Geste (1939), which earned Brian Donlevy a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. I enjoyed the second half much more than the first, which took way too long to get on with the story.

After the movie, we went out again for Indian food at our usual location. It was another great meal, after which I returned home. Thank you again for your hospitality, Ulf-san!

SONNY CHIBA: Master of Japanese Mobsters!

Japanese action star Sonny Chiba poses for photos among the gathered fans. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a fun event at the Sun Plaza in Nakano, Tokyo. The guest of honor was Toei action star Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, who's headlined everything from the bloody actioner The Street Fighter (1974) to the tokusatsu cult classic Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961). Around the world, Chiba-san is best known for his yakuza (Japanese mobster) movies.

Chiba-san impressed the audience with his stories, and he shared his memories of becoming a Toei New Face and working with directors as varied as Kinji Fuksasaku and Quentin Tarantino.

It was a blast seeing Chiba-san again. He's always in great spirits and has a warm personality, a trait not often shared with other international movie stars. A fun time was most certainly had by all who were there.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

SUPER FESTIVAL 73! Toys, Toys, and More Toys!

Kamen Rider cosplay! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

It's that time of year again. January 8 saw Super Festival 73 invade the the Science Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo. I was interested to have another look at the show, but it's starting to feel a little too familiar.

If you're a toy collector, Super Festival probably has a lot to offer. But if you're like me, and your toy-collecting days ended when you were 12, it can get a little repetitive, especially when the displays continue to look more and more similar as the months pass.

I walked around the various rooms of memorabilia to see if I could find anything interesting, and for the first time in a while (and perhaps ever), I left the show without having purchased anything. The only thing I paid for was my 1,500-yen ticket to the show. I was actually rather pleased that I didn't buy some old book or DVD, but at the same time, it does make it seem like something's missing.

The highlight, of course, was seeing my fellow fans wandering the halls. I also enjoyed seeing Return of Ultraman suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi, who wished me "Happy New Year" in no less than three languages! Kikuchi-san is truly a class act, and he's always awesome when I see him.

With Eiichi Kikuchi.

Another familiar face on hand was Sojiro Uchino, a child actor who appears in episodes of Ultra Q, Ultraman, Kaiju Booska, and even Gamera vs. Viras. Uchino-san is a staple of Super Festival, and when I didn't see him at the last show, it certainly didn't feel the same without him.

With Sojiro Uchino.

When all was said and done, I didn't spend that much time at the show. Maybe an hour, hour and a half. Super Festival can be an interesting show, but for a person who just isn't into collecting stuff, I find it has less and less to offer these days. Here's hoping the next one will be a lot more exciting.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Remembering Francine York

With Francine York in July 2010.

On January 6, actress Francine York, a staple of television during the 1960s, passed away after a battle with cancer. She played the Bookworm's henchwoman Lydia Limpet on the Adam West Batman TV series and also appeared on such shows as Perry Mason and Lost in Space. Her film roles range from Mutiny in Outer Space (1965) to The Nutty Professor (1963).

While attending The Hollywood Show in July 2010, I briefly met Ms. York at her autograph table and spoke to her about her work on Batman. I'll always remember her kindness. Rest in peace.

Friday, December 30, 2016

SHINJUKU AT NIGHT! Random Shots Around Kabukicho!

Here are a few shots taken last night while walking around Shinjuku with a friend. Happy New Year!