Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Another Look at Toho Cinemas' 'Godzilla Minus One' Statue!

The Godzilla Minus One statue at Toho Cinemas Hibiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Tuesday, July 25, I went back to Toho Cinemas Hibiya, and, as I was leaving, I decided to take a few more photos of the Godzilla Minus One statue, as well as the Heisei-era Godzilla statue. Given it was nighttime this time around, I figured it was worth photographing. Enjoy!

A Special Italian Dinner with the Daughter of a Tokusatsu Legend!

With Kyoko Ifukube (far right) and two of her close friends.

Tonight (Wednesday, July 26), I had a great evening with Kyoko Ifukube (Akira Ifukube's daughter) and two of her friends at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo. The food was more of a mix of Japanese and Italian, but it was still enjoyable. The talk about movies and music was at a minimum, though it was nonetheless a great time. (Sometimes, you just want to talk about other things.) We're likely to get together again in the fall, and I can't wait!

Sunday, July 23, 2023

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NAGANUMA-SAN! Celebrating the Birthday of a Toho Tokusatsu Alumnus!

Takashi Naganuma about to blow out his birthday cake. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday night, July 22, I attended another special event -- but not just any event! It celebrated the recent birthday (July 20) of Takashi Naganuma, who turned 76. I joined the event after work, and things went as they usually do. As always, Naganuma-san came up with a lot of Japanese-English wordplay, but so did I.

In fact, some of my material made Eiichi Asada laugh pretty hard (such as, when Asada-san ordered a drink "on the rocks," I came up with an extremely silly, childish play on words using with Japanese word for "six") which I wasn't expecting, but I was nonetheless happy to see. It certainly wasn't high-brow stuff, but I'm glad it got the job done. Other than that silliness, there isn't a whole lot else to talk about, so let's get to the highlights.

Happy birthday, Naganuma-san!

Takashi Naganuma. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Eiichi Asada. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Seeing 'The Ghost of Yotsuya' in 35mm!

The National Film Archive of Japan's film program honoring movie figures who died in the last two years. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Nagisa Oshima retrospective isn't the only thing happening these days at the National Film Archive of Japan. Also taking place is a film program entitled In Memory of Film Figures We Lost in 2021-2022. The first half of the program runs from July 4 through September 3, and the second half will take place from October 10 through the 22nd. 

Recognize any of the faces here? Photo by Brett Homenick.

To be honest, most of the selected films don't appeal to me all that much, but one title in particular intrigued me -- Nobuo Nakagawa's The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959). Composer Chumei Watanabe passed away last year, so this film was chosen to honor his memory.

A poster for Nikkastu's Two for Ginza (1967), starring the lovely Masako Izumi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Not only was The Ghost of Yotsuya shown in 35mm, but it was actually shown with English subtitles! Suffice it to say, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up, especially since (believe it or not) I'd never seen it before.

A poster for Princess from the Moon (1987), celebrating the career of the late SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As expected, I enjoyed the film. It was effectively creepy with many great visuals. This film proves just how great a director Nobuo Nakagawa was at horror, a genre he truly excelled at. The print was in excellent shape, and the subtitles were well written and easy to read. 

It was a great afternoon at the movies. I'm not sure I will check out any of the other films on offer, but, if I do, it will be tough -- to say the least -- to top today's offering.

Nagisa Oshima Feted at the National Film Archive of Japan!

Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier today (that's Wednesday, July 19), I stopped by the National Film Archive of Japan and had the chance to check out its exhibit on the acclaimed director Nagisa Oshima. The exhibit's name in English is simply Film Director Nagisa Oshima, and it looks back on the director's decades-long career 10 years after his passing. In the West, Oshima is probably best known for directing David Bowie in the World War II drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983).

Signage for the Film Director Nagisa Oshima exhibit. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The exhibit itself was well done, but my lack of familiarity (and, if I'm being completely honest, interest) in the works of Oshima left me a bit cold. I just didn't know that much about the works on display to be intrigued all that much. Interestingly, photography was mostly allowed in the exhibit, but the posters for Oshima's various films were, for the most part, off-limits. (Given some of the rare pictures and memorabilia on hand that visitors were allowed to photograph, you'd think it would have been the opposite situation.)

Nagisa Oshima's script for an unmade film called "Friday the 13th." Photo by Brett Homenick.

One thing that did capture my attention was this Oshima script for an unmade movie called "Friday the 13th." The 1959 screenplay was apparently supposed to be a black comedy, but no word on whether it would have featured a machete-wielding maniac. 

Afterward, I watched some trailers for some of Oshima's films that were being shown just outside the exhibit, most notably Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969), starring Rie Yokoyama. I can't argue with his filmmaking abilities, but the risque subject matter of his films simply doesn't appeal to me. Oh, well. Maybe one day.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Kamen Rider and Ultra-Heroes Unite for One Night!

Mitsuhiro Sano, Yumiko Tanaka, and Keiko Nishi pose for pictures. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday, July 15, I attended a special event with some surprise guests. The main event was the variety show in which actress Yumiko Tanaka performed onstage with a number of other actors. After the show, I was invited to a dinner with Tanaka-san's friends and supporters. That, for me, was the real attraction.

Yumiko Tanaka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

If you don't know by now, Tanaka-san stars in Kamen Rider Super-1 (1980-81) as Harumi Kusanami and also appears in a small role toward the beginning of Godzilla 1985 (1984) in a scene with Ken Tanaka (which was edited out of the American release). 

At the end of the show, Tanaka-san and her co-stars sang and danced to the Japanese version of the Village People classic "YMCA." I thought that was quite amusing. After the show, our group gathered in front of the venue, which was in Tsukiji, before heading off to dinner. Before I knew it, actress Keiko Nishi joined our group and greeted me by touching my arm. (It's always a plus when the most beautiful woman in the history of the Ultra-series makes contact!)

Actor Mitsuhiro San wasn't too far behind Nishi-san. He and I talked about the song "YMCA," but he's a much bigger fan of the song "Massachusetts" by the Bee Gees, which he can do a pretty good job of singing in English. After that, we headed to the restaurant.

Mitsuhiro Sano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Of course, Sano-san TAC member Kozo Yoshimura in Ultraman Ace (1972-73). I sat across from Sano-san at the table and close to Nishi-san. Naturally, it was a great experience to be in the presence of such Ultra-series royalty! 

Sano-san commented that he was good at signing in English but not good at English conversation. Well, I hope one day he can master English conversation, too. But, in any case, it's always a blast hanging out with him.

With Keiko Nishi.

Nishi-san appears in Ultraman Ace as TAC member Noriko Mikawa. Even though her cafe closed a while back, it's a joy to see Nishi-san attend events like these. 

And that's a wrap! It was a much more fun evening than I expected, but I'm definitely not complaining! Hope we can do it again soon.

More 'Minus One' Photos!

The Godzilla Minus One statue at Toho Cinemas Hibiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday, July 15, I returned to Toho Cinemas Hibiya to snap a few more photos of the Godzilla Minus One (2023) statue on display. Here they are. Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Our First Detailed Look at the New Godzilla in 'Godzilla Minus One'

The new Godzilla on display at Toho Cinemas Hibiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Well, that was a surprise. I happened to visit Toho Cinemas Hibiya this morning, and, as soon as I got off the escalator that leads to the theater, I spotted the above Godzilla statue. As you can obviously see, the display is advertising the upcoming Godzilla Minus One (2023) production that is scheduled to be released on November 3. 

Also available was some theater-exclusive merchandise, which you can also see below. (For what it's worth, I didn't buy any.) Seeing the Godzilla display was cool enough for me, and as usual I took way too many photos. Anyway, here's what I saw. Enjoy!