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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

George Rohrs, One of the Last Veterans of 'Godzilla King of the Monsters,' Passes Away at 90

Film editor George Rohrs, who worked on the American version of Godzilla King of the Monsters (1956), passed away on August 30 of natural causes. He was 90 years old.

Mr. Rohrs was born on April 29, 1930, in Oak Park, IL, but moved with his family to Southern California during his teenage years. After serving in the Army for a couple of years, Mr. Rohrs joined the film industry in the 1950s, leading to a career in the entertainment world that lasted more than 30 years. More information about his life can be found in this obituary.

One of Mr. Rohrs' best-known credits internationally is Godzilla King of the Monsters. In a 2006 interview with Terry Morse, Jr., Morse would say, "Two other editors worked on the team. George Rohrs was the number-one assistant and sound effects editor." 

Godzilla fans around the world owe a debt of gratitude to George Rohrs for helping to make the Godzilla series a worldwide phenomenon. Rest in peace.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sighted Nearby

Look what I found in my neck of the woods...

An Evening with a Legendary Monster Maker!

In between Keizo Murase (right) and Daisuke Sato.

Tonight, I was fortunate to attend a special event with legendary Toho suitmaker Keizo Murase. I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Murase-san about his career two years ago.

Keizo Murase. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It had been probably about a year since I last saw Murase-san, and given the pandemic, that's no surprise. It's certainly heartening to see Murase-san and Nakano-san still doing well and attending such public events.

Suffice it to say, it's been a busy weekend, but things will only get busier from here. October is going to feel very much like a pre-pandemic month for me. Let's see if I still have the stamina to keep up!

A Return to the Laputa Asagaya!

The Laputa Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from screenwriter Fumio Ishimori. He invited me to join him at a screening of his film Kyoko and Jiro (1973), produced by Shochiku Studios. Kyoko and Jiro is a romantic melodrama that follows the lives of the titular characters, including all the ups and downs. Kaoru Yumi and Yuriko Hishimi are two of the actresses that tokusatsu fans would likely recognize.
I went to the theater (the Laputa Asagaya) and met Ishimori-san there. Shortly thereafter, the movie started. I was surprised to see it was a packed house, but I guess there were quite a few people who wanted to see the film. And an enjoyable film it was. It was very stylishly directed and well acted by its cast members.

Fumio Ishimori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After the movie, our group had lunch at a nearby restaurant. There, I was introduced to a female anime TV scriptwriter who was a student of Ishimori-san's. We all had a great conversation. Many thanks to Ishimori-san for inviting me!

Happy Birthday, Teruyoshi Nakano!

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

October 9 marked the 85th birthday of the great Toho SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano, and Saturday, October 10 saw a celebration of his birthday.

Nakano-san's birthday cake. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It was another lively attended and quite well attended, which was a bit surprising, given the ongoing pandemic. But it was great to see so many turning out to honor Nakano-san for hitting such an incredible milestone.

Also on hand was Takashi Naganuma. His presence always adds to the experience, and this time was no exception.

That's all for another great evening. Happy birthday, Nakano-san!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Seeing Daimajin Strikes Again in Jimbocho!

On Tuesday, October 6, I went to the Jimbocho Theater to catch a rare screening of the Daiei classic Daimajin Strikes Again (1966). This, of course, is the third in the three-film series, and the one that focuses on children as the central characters.

The Jimbocho Theater. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The film looked great in 35mm, and it's probably been a good 15 to 20 years since I last saw it. So, in some ways, it was like seeing it for the first time. It was quite enjoyable, and while some fans consider it the weakest of the trilogy, I'm not sure I can agree. 

Interestingly, the film was not screened as part of any tokusatsu program but rather one that highlights movies that take place in the mountains! Suffice it to say, that's quite an unusual theme. Nevertheless, I immensely enjoyed seeing the film in 35mm.