David L Reinke comments

Posted in: New PlayStation 4 products aim to keep Sony in lead See in context

Perhaps, for gaming, the 4K HDR format with be a big hit. (Sports and live broadcasts as well) but for film...

There is no doubt that 4K HDR has amazing resolution and looks great, but for movies it simply does not look right. What's missing is the 'grain' we have become accustomed to from years of watching actual film projection. Perhaps those who just toddlers now will view 4K HDR as normal, but for those of us who are old enough will likely never think so. Well, at least I will not.

We have a Sony 65" 4K and our Blu-ray discs look great, and I like the idea of a PlayStation with 4K but as we mostly watch movies on our system, I doubt we will upgrade to HDR. Now my grandsons on the other hand...

And do not forget: Sony & Panasonic have already announced 8K broadcasts of the 2020 Olympics. Perhaps the PlayStation 5 will be 8K...?

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Posted in: 'Star Wars' may propel U.S. toy industry to best year since 1999 See in context

The current 6" Black Series is very well done, though also very expensive, at $20 per figure on average, their 3.75" line is something of a disappointment in terms on construction and figure articulation. On the other hand...

The new Galactic Heroes figures on display at this year's SD ComicCon feature robust construction and imaginative design. Indeed they look good and are perfect for playing "big battles for small hands." The other potential mega-hit is the new AT-AT.

Not as big as the BAT-AT, more in line (size wise) with the original AT-AT released in the 1980's, the new version will be expensive at $300 but in addition to having lights & sounds, it will also walk! Controlled by your smart phone these now very noble walking tanks are set to occupy living rooms all over the world.

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Posted in: Oliver Stone warns of Pokemon Go 'totalitarianism' See in context

This is all about PR for his new film. In Hollywood all publicity is good publicity. That's why Stone was at ComicCon in the first place, and it looks like his remarks are having the desired effect. Mission accomplished for Stone and his production team.

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Posted in: Imperial Household Agency denies emperor's wish to abdicate See in context

"For the Nippon Kaigi crowd, it's a bit like the Pope retiring. There's just no precedent for it."

Unless one goes far enough back in history, to the years leading up to the Gempei Wars. Of course then, the emperor retired as a ploy to gain more power as an "advisor" to the newly installed emperor, but it is very doubtful that is the plan here...

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Posted in: 'Game of Thrones' season finale scores record ratings See in context

The finale was a lot of fun and there were many parts I liked, but for me the best was Arya's revenge -- sweet indeed.

Next season should be a hot one.

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Posted in: HBO says Brexit won't hurt 'Game of Thrones' production See in context

Yes, the Season Finale was a pretty good episode, particularly Arya. Next season should be pretty fierce.

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Posted in: New film about Japanese historical swords, forging techniques now playing in select theaters See in context

Perhaps this will be made available in HD on Blu-ray for sale here in the US?

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Posted in: Toy 'arms race' turning Lego violent: study See in context

Good point Katsu78, and this is where parents need to be informed consumers so they can select the best set for their kids. There are still plenty of sets available that are more "generic" (which is to say not tied to a specific theme or film) that allow for more 'free form' play and construction.

It is also worth considering just who if purchasing these sets. Many are older collectors who will build the Death Star or the Avenger Tower and then put its on display. For kids, they might also build a pre-designed firetruck or castle, but once they start playing with it these items will rarely remain as built.

There is a book, Extreme Bricks by Sarah Herman c2013, that catalogs just what one can build with Lego, and the photos are simply amazing. It proves that with enough time & talent (and bricks) you really can build anything. There are other books on this very topic and they might serve to inspire young engineers.

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Posted in: Toy 'arms race' turning Lego violent: study See in context

Tempest in a teapot. LEGO is a great toy. With enough time & talent (and enough bricks) you really can build anything.

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Posted in: Mountbatten’s Samurai: Imperial Japanese Army, Navy Forces under British control in Southeast Asia, 1945-1948. See in context

Interesting -- more than 70's year after the war and we are still making new, and important, discoveries. This book should prove to be a fascinating read.

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Posted in: Trump's brand of populism: Is he the next Andrew Jackson? Or the next Groucho Marx? See in context

Trump as Groucho Marx?

That is an insult to true Marxists the world over. Trump is precisely the type of pompous blowhard the Marx Brothers took aim at.

Hail Freedonia!

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Posted in: 'Predator' reboot to begin filming by October See in context

Are there no new stories to tell?

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Posted in: 'Magnificent 7' revives forgotten story of black cowboys See in context

Lawrence Kasdan's film, Silverado.

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Posted in: O'Reilly's next 'Killing' subject: Japan, at end of World War II See in context

"...O’Reilly and Dugard the most widely read historians..." Historians? These two?

This topic, the final year of the war in the Pacific, has been covered very well indeed by John Toland (Rising Sun - The Decline And Fall Of The Japanese Empire, c1970) and by Max Hastings in his book, Retribution - The Battle For Japan 1944-45, c2007.

As for the atomic bomb, there are several books the very best of which are: The Making Of The Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, c1986 American Prometheus - The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird & Martin Sherwin, c2005 And, History Wars -- The Enola Gay And Other Battle For The American Past by Edward Linenthal & Tom Engelhard, c1996

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Posted in: 'Kohaku' New Year’s Eve singing contest will be invaded by 'Star Wars' See in context

Star Wars singing contest ... Where's Bill Murray?

"Star Wars, Nothing but Star Wars, It's got to be Star Wars, All of the time." --Bill Murray, SNL

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Posted in: Building blocks for the future See in context

LEGO -- the best toy ever.

I played with LEGO when I was younger, as did my daughters and now my grandsons. With enough time, talent, and bricks, you really can build anything.

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Posted in: Teaser gives us our first peek at Japan’s upcoming Godzilla movie See in context

"...people here simply can't act and almost all Japanese films are strange and boring..."

Really?

Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, Ran, Yojimbo, Chushhingura (any number of versions) Tampopo, Fires On The Plain, The Human Condition,

A host of incredible actors in the Kabuki Theatre: Shoroku, Baiko, Tatsunosuke, Ennosuke, Ebizo, Danjuro, Matagoro Tamasaburo,

Yes, I which more actors were that 'bad.'

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Posted in: In 'Star Wars,' classical music has rare giant impact See in context

"...1983’s “Return of the Jedi” that culminated in Luke’s patricidal killing of Vader."

Well, not quite. Luke does cut off his father's hand during their light saber duel, but Vader dies from wounds sustained while saving his son, Luke, from the wrath of the Emperor.

That aside, the article rightly credits Williams with creating a series of scores that deftly enrich the universe created by Lucas. It is now impossible to imagine Star Wars without the iconic music by John Williams.

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Posted in: 'Trumbo' resurrects Hollywood's darkest chapter See in context

Saw this film at a screening a couple of weeks ago -- enjoyed it very much. The cast is in top form and the story told with wit, intelligence, and a heavy dose of irony. The scene of the confrontation between Trumbo and John Wayne elicited well deserved applause from the audience. This is a film worth seeking out.

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Posted in: Ad-driven Scorsese film premieres in S Korea See in context

Ah Hollywood ...

They call it Show Business for a reason.

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Posted in: Thomas the Tank Engine’s video visit to Japan is more Japanese than life in Japan See in context

What -- Did Thomas not pay a visit to the Kabuki-za?

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Posted in: Tokyo International Players to perform 'The Rocky Horror Show' See in context

The film is "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" while the stage play is simply "The Rocky Horror Show."

We actually staged an 'imaginary kabuki' version of this play, calling it the "Onnagata Pinker Show." at the University of Hawai'i back in 1981. It was, to say the least, an imaginative take off on the original.

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Posted in: Kabuki show debuts at Las Vegas Bellagio as MGM eyes Japan See in context

We have been presenting Kabuki, in English, at the university of Hawai'i (and at other select universities) for years now, always to sold-out houses. This includes both classic plays (Chushingura, Kanjincho, Ibaraki) as well as fusion, or what we call 'imaginary kabuki' plays (Richard III, Revenge At Spider Mountain, The Emperor Of Mars).

That this production in Vegas enjoyed an audience of over 10,000 on Friday night is impressive but not completely surprising. Kabuki is a wonderful theatrical art form, full of life and energy. There is spectacle, but there is more, much more, for these are stories that delve deeply into the human condition -- love, sacrifice, the corruption of power -- themes that are universal.

Bravo on this initial success in Las Vegas, but the real question remains: Will traditional Kabuki prove as popular not only in Vegas but in the the wider US?

I think it can, but only if Shochiku, and its US partners, are willing to spend not just the money, but also the time to build an audience. If they are, then Kabuki could finds the US to be very receptive indeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0y-TEZrFQ8

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Posted in: Gackt lashes out at Cool Japan: 'Almost no results of Japanese culture exported overseas' See in context

I can not speak to the efficacy of the Japanese government's efforts to promote Japan, however...

Ignoring, for the moment, the monster in the room (Godzilla) I do know that when the University of Hawai'i mounted a production of The kabuki play Chushingura, under the direction of Nakamura Matagoro II, it played to sold out houses for three weeks in Honolulu (8 performances per week) a sold out tour if the neighbor islands and then a six week coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. each performance sold out. Likewise, our production of Kanjincho, under the direction of James R Brandon & Onoe Kikunobu, also enjoyed a sold out run in Honolulu.

The annual Anime Expo at the Los Angeke Convention Center just finished, once again enjoying robust attendance. At the 2010 convention a live stage show, by a troupe from Tokyo, of a ghost story performed in Japanese, was enthusiastically received by the standing room only audience.

Perhaps it is the case, as noted above, that the material selected and how it is presented, are the critical factors in their success or failure to attract an audience. Clearly the interest exists and their are audiences willing to pay to see good films, plays and works of art.

Can the Japanese government do more? No doubt.

I, for one, would love to see more Kabuki here in the US. The NHK used to broadcast, weekly, kabuki plays. They have a vast library of classic plays featuring some of the greatest actors to grace not just the Kabuki stage but any stage in the world. The government should make those recordings available, at a very attractive price, in the US market. Will they be as big as Godzilla? Perhaps not, but wth time and patience the will find a following here in the US.

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Posted in: Superhero movies are ruining cinema, says 'Exorcist' director See in context

It is all about the money, and Hollywood listens closely to the cash register, after all, they call this "Show Business" for a reason.

So vote with your wallets. Go to those stories you want to be told.

That said, some stories really do work better on television. Stone's Alexander the Great is a case in point. Stone has recut the film half a dozen times now and still can not seem to get the film the way he wants it. This may be that the story of Alexander is simply too great to be told effectively even in a 3+ hour film. However, as an episodic series, like those on HBO, he just might be able to tell the story he wants to.

On the other hand, a film like Zack Snyder's 300, is all about the visuals and so works better on a larger canvas where the visuals can easily overwhelm the viewer.

As for the 70's being the "Golden Age" of cinema... Yes, there were lots of great films in that decade, but the golden age? In the 70's they were talking of the 40's as the golden age, and no doubt in the 2020's they will be looking at the 90's as the golden age.

It is story telling and every year there are stories well told and not.

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Posted in: Superhero movies are ruining cinema, says 'Exorcist' director See in context

Sorcerer was an excellent film, a re-make of a great European film, but excellent in every respect.

However... For the director of The Exorcist to complain about the take over of Hollywood by fantasy films as opposed to those 'rooted in realty' rings just a tad bit hallow. Besides, it was Woody Allen's Annie Hall that won the Oscar for best film in 1977, not Star Wars.

That said, Friedkin is absolutely correct, some of the very best work is being done on television, particularly stories that require time to develop their plot and characters. We can hope that Friedkin does direct again.

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Posted in: Cameron Crowe apologizes for casting Emma Stone in part-Asian role See in context

"Putting a white actor in a role for an Asian is just as ridiculous as casting an Asian actor to play a white person...."

I guess people feel differently about stage productions as opposed to films.

Denzel Washington gave an excellent performance as Mark Antony As did Lawrence Olivier as Othello So too Bando Tamasaburo as Lady MacBeth

In my brief theatrical career I was fortunate to be cast as Daimyo Wakasanosuke in the Kabuki play Chushingura. The play's director, Nakamura Matagoro II, said I had the perfect 'kabuki nose.' In fact our entire cast was quite mixed, both by race and gender. It is a reality of university theatre that there are often more women than men available for casting, so we had women cast in many of the male roles. No one, not the theatre critics in Hawai'i and the Mainland, or audiences anywhere, expressed any concerns about the casting.

Even in films, there seem to be 'levels of outrage' when it comes to race and casting.

Chinese actors were cast to play Japanese geisha in the film Memories Of A Geisha... Mako playing a Chinese coolie in The Sand Pebbles Or George Takei playing a Vietnamese officer in The Green Berets

I am told by a technical advisor who worked on Geisha that they cast the best actors they could find given not only the dramatic requirements of the part, but also the issue of language. Is this an example of that old saw that 'all Asians look alike'?

And not just Asians, for Eli Wallach played Latino in several films including The Magnificent Seven, but he is not even remotely Hispanic. So too Jennette Goldstein who played Private Vasquez, a Latina Space Marine, in Aliens.

Where is the outrage over this casting?

If strict ethnic casting were enforced in the theatre then so many great roles would be denied to so many great actors. Indeed, the world of Kabuki, a most marvelous art form, would be closed to me, and my life would be just that much more diminished.

http://narukamisthunderbolts.blogspot.com/2009/03/pure-acting-kabuki-actor-nakamura.html

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Posted in: Darth Vader becomes decorative doll for Boys’ Day See in context

"Thew Force is strong with this collectible..." -- D. Vader

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Posted in: Godzilla appointed Tokyo resident, tourism ambassador See in context

Godzilla -- what's not to love? Now that he is a resident of Tokyo, will he run for mayor?

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Posted in: The PS4 is selling like hot cakes all over the world…except in Japan. But why? See in context

And now for something completely different ...

I wish the console makers, in particular Sony PS, would consider resurrecting some of the old war game / strategy games formerly available only on a PC or Mac.

At E3, several years ago, that suggestion was floated to the game developers behind the city building games Caesar III & VI, Cleopatra and Zeus (among others). and their argument against was the poor resolution of the current systems (the PS2 and original Xbox.) They put a lot of detail into their games and they wanted them to be seen in all their high-rez glory.

Fair enough but now the argument holds no water. The PS is HD and the processor is easily powerful enough to handle any war game (which do not require much if any animation).

The developers at Riot Games told me that it was really a matter of surface area for game control/interface. In fact many of them played and enjoyed war games (a large number of them would meet one or twice a month to play 'old fashioned' map & counter and Euro-style strategy boardgames. So the interest is there, but they though the system design argued against such games on a console.

But I wonder ...

Now I do realize mine is a lonely voice in the wilderness, but I do think it is possible, technically, to convert some of the great old war games to the PS3 or 4 and I also believe these games would find an audience among console gamers ready for something different. Indeed, if such games were averrable, Sony might discover an entire new legion of gamers ready to join the PS ranks.

Just a wild thought on Monday morning ...

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