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Introducing The #DFNYFive!

Here’s the first #DFNYFive, our five favorite flicks!  So hard to choose,  but these are the ones that consistently come to mind when people ask.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are best movies ever made, just the five flicks that I can return to over and over again and enjoy just as much as the first time I saw them!

1. Annie Hall (1977)

2. Seven Samurai (1954)

3. All The President’s Men (1976)

4. A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway To Heaven) (1946)

5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Hope you like the #DFNYFive,  what are your favorites? Looking forward to receiving some interesting responses!

 

Chibi Maruko-Chan (ちびまる子ちゃん)

Chibi Maruko-chan is one of Japan’s most enduring (as well as endearing) fictional figures in popular culture.  Originally conceived as the main character in Momoko Sakura’s 1980’s shōjo manga (comics aimed at a younger female audience), Chibi Maruko-chan has subsequently gone on to have success in the anime (cartoon) world, a live action spin-off, several animated motion pictures and even multiple video game adaptations, all in a period of time of over thirty years.  

Chibi Maruko-chan (whose name translates as “Little Maruko-chan,” with “-chan” itself having the meaning of a feminine diminutive), is a lovable yet mischievous character, whose personality is constantly giving rise to situations that most Japanese little girls would rarely find themselves in.  She usually tries to get money out of her mother and beloved grandfather to go downtown to the local shops to buy candy or toys.  Usually reluctant to wake up to go to school, her older sister relishes the role of getting her out of bed on a daily basis.

Maruko’s classmates, who are regular participants in her antics, have their closest western equivalents in the Peanuts Gang, the creation of Charles Schultz, with their legendary mascot, Snoopy.  But where Schultz’s characters are a group of children that have their adventures in a world of unseen adults (who, even when heard, speak in unintelligible trumpet-sounding voices), Chibi Maruko-chan and her friends live within a world of Japanese sensibilities and have a much higher interaction with older people, be they parents, grandparents, teachers, or shopkeepers, etc.  There are often references to traditional Japanese games, customs, foods, holidays, etc, which make the world of Chibi Maruko-chan an excellent introduction to Japanese culture.

#ChibMarukoChan #ちびまる子ちゃん

Daily Japan Focus On: Art Collector/Dealer Norman Brosterman

The latest Daily Japan Focus is on Norman Brosterman, an American architect, art collector/dealer and author of Inventing Kindergarten (1997) and Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future (2000).  Norman’s unique collections have featured items from the Japanese arts of ikebana (生け花) baskets, kimono (着物), as well as the traditional Japanese game of sugoroku (双六).

(日本語での表記は後に続きます)

DJ)  What was your earliest exposure to Japanese art, and has your first impression of it changed in any way?

NB)  I learned to love Japanese gardens and bonsai at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden when I was a boy. In architecture school the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and its affinities to traditional Japanese houses became an interest. But the first Japanese things I collected, after seeing the Cotsen Collection at Asia Society in New York in 1999, were Ikebana hanakago – baskets for flower arranging.

DJ)  Have you subsequently had the chance to see gardens and bonsai in Japan to compare them with those of your childhood memories? If so, were there any notable differences? Similarities?

Also, what about the Ikebana baskets appealed to you for collecting purposes?  Are there a large variety of styles/techniques depending on the artist?  How many different types of each were in your collection?  Can you list some examples that stand out for you? 

NB)  When I was at Ryoanji in Kyoto, standing on a sort of island in the large lake, my daughter said, ”This is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.” Indeed, Ryoanji may have been the actual model for the one I grew up with in New York. Finally getting to see the real thing brought a tear to my eye. The famous rock garden at Ryoanji was also actually duplicated in Brooklyn many years ago but has not been accessible for some time.

One of the great things about ikebana baskets is their absolute diversity. While there are “styles,” pretty much anything that can hold a water cylinder can be utilized. And because most of the great ones are signed on the bottom, the works can be identified by the artist, an opportunity for connoisseurship. I had around fifty by all the best makers – Tanabe Chikuunsai I, Maeda Chikubosai I, Iizuka Rokansai, and others.

DJ) Speaking of collections, you had great success with your 1930’s Japanese propaganda kimonos collection.  Can you tell us a bit about how that came about, any issues you may have had building it (due to their controversial nature, etc), its display history and where it is now?

NB) There was an exhibit in 2004 at the Bard Graduate Center in NYC called Wearing Propaganda, with a big book. I did not see the show but Noriko Miyamoto, a dealer in Sag Harbor who I knew, was a lender to the show. I asked her about these “war” kimonos and she started finding some for me. Then I discovered there was a dealer in Osaka who found many for sale over a period of years. He was happy to sell them, no thought to controversy. They seemed really undervalued for such historical and creatively designed objects. I ultimately donated 13 to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when they agreed to produce a book that included many more of mine. And they did – https://www.mfa.org/collections/publications/brittle-decade – I also sold about 10 to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and to other museums, finally selling the bulk remaining to a private collector.

DJ)  It seems like your experience with wartime propaganda kimono led directly to your latest collection of “wartime propaganda Sugoroku” (a traditional board game that can be described as a kind of Chutes and Ladders with images representing various historical events) – is there a connection?  Can you tell us a bit about how that collection came about, as well as some of its historical significance and its current status? 

NB)  Yes the imagery on the war kimono is similar to the imagery on the sugoroku. I can’t quite remember when I first noticed the games but it was when I still had the kimono. Each is a history in itself and the graphics on all are fantastic. Out of every 20 or so games that I have seen only one was likely to have the kind of direct connection to actual historical events that I have sought out. As most were published for children they are predictably trips to the zoo, nursery rhymes, trips around Japan, etc. The ones I have, about 250 now, while published for children, cover themes like the First Sino-Japanese War (1895), The Russo-Japanese War (1904/5), World War I, the Japanese occupation of Manchuria and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945), and social history like the prevention of the spread of disease, Japanese politics, etc. There is also a science-fiction component to the collection that starts with fantasy weapons in the 1920’s and goes right through to Godzilla, futuristic architecture, and space flight in the 1950’s.

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Thank you to Norman Brosterman for this fascinating glimpse at these traditional Japanese arts.  We hear that he’s currently working on a book, we’re guessing it will be centered on one of them, stand by for more information coming soon!

In the meantime, here are links to Norman’s website and books:

Norman Brosterman’s website: Brosterman.com

Inventing Kindergarten (website):  Inventing Kindergarten

Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future (at Amazon): Out of Time 

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最新のDaily Japan Focusは、アメリカの建築家、そして、アートコレクター及びディーラであり、Inventing Kindergarten (1997)やOut of Time: Design for the 20th Century Future (2000)の著者でもある、ノーマン・ブロスターマン氏に焦点を当てます。ノーマン氏の、ユニークな生花の花籠や着物、そして双六のコレクションまでお話しを伺います。

DJ)  日本美術に最初に触れたのはどのようなものでしたか? また、その第一印象からはどのように変化しましたか?

NB)  少年だった頃にブルックリン植物園の日本庭園と盆栽を好きになりました。 建築学校では、フランク・ロイド・ライトの作品と、日本の伝統的な家屋との親和性に興味を持ちました。 ですが、1999年のアジアソサエティーニューヨークでコッセン・コレクションを見てから、初めて日本の物でコレクションしたものは、生花の花籠でした。

DJ)  その後、実際に日本で庭園や盆栽を見て、子供の頃の思い出と比較する機会はありましたか? もしあれば、何か顕著な違いや、類似している点はありましたか?

また、生花の花籠のどのような点が収集するに至るまで、あなたを魅了しましたか? アーティストによって、スタイルや技術は多種多様にあるものでしょうか? あなたのコレクションには、いくつのタイプの花籠がありますか? 特に特筆すべき例がありましたら、教えて下さい。

NB)  京都の龍安寺にある、大きな池中の島に立っていると、娘が”これは、ブルックリン植物園だわ”と言ったのです。 確かに、龍安寺は私がニューヨークで共に育った(ブルックリン植物園の)モデルだったのかもしれません。 ついに本物を見ることができて、涙が出ました。 龍安寺の有名な石庭もブルックリンで何年も前に複製されましたが、しばらくの間いくことが出来ませんでした。

生花の花籠の素晴らしいことの一つは、絶対的な多様性です。 「スタイル」はありますが、水容れを保持できるのであれば、何でもありです。 そして素晴らしいものは、底にサインがされていますので、目利きによって作家を識別する機会を担保できるのです。 わたしは、例えば、田辺竹雲斎、前田竹盆栽、飯塚琅玕齋などの最高の作り手による50ほどの花籠を所有していました。 

DJ)  コレクションと言えば、Normanさんは1930年代の日本のプロパガンダ着物コレクションで大成功をおさめられましたね。 それがどのようにして起こったのか、コレクションを構築するにあたって何か発生した問題(例えば、物議を醸し出す性質のもの)なども含めて教えてください。 また、どういった所でそのコレクションは展示されましたか?

NB) 2004年にニューヨークのバード大学院センターで、Wearing Propaganda(訳注:着るプロパガンダという意)という展覧会があり、大型本も出版されました。 わたしはその展覧会は見なかったのですが、知り合いのサグ・ハーバーにいたディーラーのNoriko Miyamotoさんが作品の貸主でした。わたしは彼女にこの”戦争”着物について尋ね、それから私のために探し始めてくれました。 それから、何年にもわたって、大阪でたくさんの(そういった着物を)扱っているディーラーを見つけました。彼らは喜んで売ってくれましたがが、物議を醸し出すとは考えませんでした。 こんなにも歴史的で創造的な物なのに、大変過小評価されているように見えたのです。最終的には、13の着物をボストン美術館に寄付し、彼らはわたしのコレクションからたくさんの着物を載せた本を出すことに合意しました。 そして彼らが出版したのはこちら https://www.mfa.org/collections/publications/brittle-decade で、10点の着物はニューヨーク市のメトロポリタン美術館や他の美術館にも販売し、しまいには残りのたくさんの着物を個人収集家へ販売しました。

DJ) 戦時中のプロパガンダ着物の経験が、あなたの最新のコレクション”戦時下のプロパガンダ双六”(Chutes and Laddersのようなと説明される、伝統的なゲームで、時代を象徴したイベントや描写がたくさん描かれている)に導かれるようですが、何か繋がりはありますか? そのコレクションがどのように生まれたのか、そしてその歴史的な重要性と、現在の状況について少し教えてください。

NB)  そうですね。 戦争着物と双六のイメージは似ています。 実際いつ初めてゲームに気づいたかは覚えていないのですが、その頃はまだ着物を持っている頃でした。 それぞれがそれ自体が歴史的を含み、すべてにすばらしい絵が描かれていました。 私が見た20ほどのゲームのうち、たった一つだけが私が探していた実際にあった歴史的な出来事に直接的に関係している可能性がありました。  ほとんどのものは、子供向けに出版されたもので、予想通り、動物園への旅や、幼稚園での歌や、日本中を旅行することなどについてでした。 私が所有しているものは、現在250点ほどあり、子供向けに出版されていますが、日清戦争(1895)、日露戦争(1904/5)、第一次世界大戦、満州の日本占領、日中戦争や、日中戦争(1931-1945)、そして病気蔓延の防止、日本の政治などの社会史などのテーマを扱っています。 コレクションには、1920年代のファンタジーな兵器から、ゴジラ、未来的な建築、1950年代の宇宙飛行に至るまでのサイエンスフィクションの要素もあります。

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お話しを通じて、日本の伝統的な芸術の魅力を垣間見れたことに感謝します。 現在、今回伺ったお話しの中から、1つのテーマをフィーチャーした本を準備中とのこと。 詳細は近日公開予定です。

それまでの間、ノーマン氏のウェブサイトや本はこちらからご覧いただけます:

Norman Brosterman’s website: Brosterman.com

Inventing Kindergarten (website):  Inventing Kindergarten

Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future (at Amazon): Out of Time 

DFNY Focus On: Filmmaker Pierre Filmon

Our latest DFNY Focus is on French Filmmaker Pierre Filmon. He is a writer, producer and director, known for his documentary on Hungarian-American cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond (2016), as well as Papa est mort (2014) and Le silence, d’abord (2003).

DFNY: What is a film that you love that might surprise people who know you?
PF: Someone giving a look at my list of 809 favourite films (so far) could be considered to know me (https://www.imdb.com/list/ls000431317/) and she / he could be surprised by some entries like Sky Riders (1976) by Douglas Hickox, Clockwise (1986) by Christopher Morahan or Monsters (2010) by Gareth Edwards. But I sure also love those three films, although very different from each other and from my main classical films taste, but I appreciate the breathtaking action bravoura and its staging in the first, the clever script and its funny rendition in the second, the smart effective achievement by a low budget film for the third one.

DFNY: If you could pair up any two actors/actresses, living or dead, to appear in a “Dream Flick” together, which two would it be & what kind of film?
PF: Let’s pair two dead actors, then… A young Montgomery Clift and a young Ava Gardner, utmost vibrant interiority facing irresistible intense sensuality. Directed by a young Nicholas Ray (the one who did They Live by Night).

DFNY: Which film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?
PF: Children of Paradise (1945) by Marcel Carné, because I met its director a few months before his death, because this film is undoubtedly a (if not “the”) French film at its finest, because I was a projectionist and screened this particular title much more than any other film in one theater (the Ranelagh theater in Paris) which had a retro-projection system (and two titles only every weekend for years – the other title being “Grock” 1931 by Carl Boese). So I often went, during the longest reels, just behind the screen (invisible to the audience on the other side of the screen), on stage, and watched the huge image at its foot, admiring the masterpiece. Because it’s the film I would dream to have made.

DFNY: If you could have one prop from any film what would it be?
PF: I’m not really a fetishist so I would not wish to detach an object from any film (except from mine : I keep a few objects from my own shootings) because it would lose its magic power.

DFNY: Is there any subject matter which you would not make/watch a film about?
PF: Arachnophobia (1990) by Frank Marshall was chilly enough to watch once, so please do not ask me to make a film about spiders…

Pierre’s 2016 documentary on cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond can be seen on Amazon Prime:

More information on Pierre and his films can be found at his IMDB page, as well as his website:

Daily Japan Focus On: Jazz Pianist Senri Oe (大江 千里)

The latest Daily Japan Focus is on Japanese musician Senri Oe (大江 千里 – Oe Senri). Born in Japan, Senri is a pianist, composer, producer, actor, singer, and songwriter who had a very successful pop-music career in Japan in the 80’s and 90’s (winning the equivalent of their Best Album Grammy several times), but after the death of a close friend and band member, Oe-san decided to make a complete change and go to New York to pursue a career in jazz music. Our exclusive interview (translated from Oe-san’s original Japanese answers, posted below as well) give an insight into his thoughts and experiences in New York from his first days here until now.

(日本語での表記は後に続きます)

Daily Japan: What did you think of NYC as a “musical city” before you came here, and has being here changed your mind?

Senri Oe: Broadway, street performers, jazz clubs – I thought that the whole town was overflowing with music. In fact, when I first tried out living here for four years in the early 90’s, I came in contact with a lot of music. In particular, the club culture was a lot of fun – there were all night clubs, and even ones where you could start dancing in the morning and go until the afternoon. I was really impressed, and thought, “Wow, what energy!” Compared to the time from around when Giuliani was mayor, it really feels like NY has become much more “grown up” and quiet. NY has been my base for the past 13 years, and since living here and seeing how extremely safe it is, and how people follow the rules, it doesn’t really feel much different from Tokyo. But it also seems like the crime and homelessness that had been increasing since Trump took office has seen a sudden rise since the Corona pandemic, and it feels like a return to the dangerous times with a lot of crime like from before Giuliani. But unexpectedly, you can hear a lot of lively music playing in the streets, it’s really fun.

DJ: How much time had you spent in NYC before you decided to locate here? How were those experiences?

SO: I finally came to NY the winter I was 29. I planned to stay at a midtown Sheraton like a good tourist, but I managed to get myself invited to stay at the apartment of someone I’d just met. What’s more, the person was going to London and said “feel free to use the place,” so while staying for the first time in a place that had its own piano, I was able to write music while looking out the window at the dancing snow. Ever since that intense first experience, I came to strongly believe that NY is the city I must come to when my power is low. Soon after my trip, I came back again for a recording, eventually renting an apartment and coming back and forth from Japan for about four years. When I think about it now, I saw everything at that time as sparkling from a tourist’s viewpoint, probably because I would come to stay whenever I got time off from work. Back then it was a very different world from the NY I’m living in now. It felt full of danger and excitement, the people were interesting, even the older people were lively and funky.

DJ: What was your first musical gig in NYC and how did it go?

SO: When I was attending the New School, I performed as part of a trio with an Israeli bassist and a drummer from Connecticut – we were invited to play at a Korean restaurant on St. Mark’s Place by a businessman who liked jazz. That was my first gig. At the time, I had bought something to put my tips in from a local Korean supermarket, it was a small pot for one person to cook rice in. I’d actually used it ever since then to cook in, and although it broke recently, it’s always been a meaningful memento for me.

DJ: How has NYC changed musically since you’ve been here?

SO: Recently, the number of places to see live music has decreased greatly, and they’ve been split into two types – first there are the famous venues that lots of tourist go to, and then there are the places where the locals go. There’s also been a decrease in the amount of jazz and other music being played in the hotel lobbies and lounges, etc. It’s been really sad, but somehow despite so many places being closed from the pandemic, there’s also been a revival of hearing music in different places throughout the city. So even with venues closing, events being cancelled, musicians having to depend on unemployment insurance, and even having my own difficulties at this time, music will always be something that’s enjoyed. That’s the current state of music now.

DJ: How does NYC compare to Tokyo musically? The audiences?

SO: Tokyo has everything, it’s a huge market with musicians going there from all over the world, so it doesn’t seem second to NY at all in that regard. But New York has opera, ballet, jazz and classical music – people here can even drink champagne in inexpensive seats without it being so unusual, I only wish it could be like that in Tokyo. Audiences in Tokyo obey the rules and conform to the mood of the room, so I think their behavior and manners are great. New Yorkers seem to think it’s all about their “having fun” when they come to hear music, so it seems like they’re much more active participants. I’m not sure which is better, but for me, it’s easier to perform in NY. I’m the type that easily gets caught up in things, so when I hear their cheers and reactions, I can play with a lot more excitement than usual.

DJ: Who are some of your musical inspirations?

SO: Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Burt Bacharach, Herbie Hancock, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Ravel, Bach….

DJ: If you weren’t playing/composing music, what would you be doing?

SO: I’m 60, so if I were working at a company, it would be almost time for retirement. But I don’t have the kind of personality that’s suited for coming and going to a company at the same time, so I’m sure if I did something outside of music, I would have done something where I would have had a lot of flexibility and freedom about making my own schedule – perhaps something like real estate.

Senri Oe’s WEBSITE:

Check out Senri’s album HMMM:

Check out Senri’s music videos:

‘Poignant Kisses’(Hmmm)  3’35”

‘Re:Vision’(Hmmm) 3’53”

‘Orange Desert’ (Hmmm) 5’13”

‘Indoor Voices’ (Hmmm)  4’38″

Additionally, Senri Oe’s song ‘Togetherness’ has been selected by the AP News organization as one of their “Top 40 songs to listen to during the pandemic.”:

Article: “40 songs about the coronavirus pandemic.” Listen here. (AP)

Video: SENRI OE, “Togetherness”: The Japanese pianist’s breezy instrumental track will brighten up your day. (AP)

DJ: ここに来る前、音楽の街ニューヨークをどんな風に思っていましたか? ここにきてからそれは変わりましたか?

SO: ブロードウエイ、路上演奏、ジャズクラブ、、、町中に音楽が溢れていると思ってました。
実際、試験的に住んだ90年代の初頭の4年間もたくさんの音楽に触れることができましたが、特にあの頃はクラブカルチャーが楽しくて、夜通しそして朝から昼過ぎまで踊っているというクラブもあり「なんてエネルギッシュなんだ」と感心しました。その頃に比べるとジュリアーニ市長以降「おとなしい静かなNY」になったなあと感じています。13年前からニューヨークが拠点になりましたが、住んでみると非常に安全で人々も規則に順従、東京とあまり変わらないような印象です。しかしトランプ政権後に増えたホームレスや様々な犯罪が、更にパンデミックにより最近は一気に増えて、ジュリアーニ市長以前の危険で犯罪が多い街に逆戻りしていると日々感じます。でも皮肉なもので、ストリートで鳴っている音楽は逆に生き生きして
面白いのです。

DJ: 実際に引越しを決めるまで、何回ニューヨークに通い、時間を過ごしましたか? その時はどんなことを経験されましたか?

SO: 29歳の冬に初めてNYにやってきました。ミッドタウンのシェラトンに宿泊し安全な観光客であるはずが、その日に知り合った人のアパートへ転がり込み、更にその人がロンドンに旅に出るので「あとは自由に使っていいよ」とピアノのある部屋を出会ったばかりの僕に貸してくれて、窓の外に雪が舞うのを見ながら曲を書きました。この強烈な最初の体験から、NYは「自分にパワーがないときに来ちゃいけない街だ」と痛感しました。その後すぐにまたレコーデイングでNYを訪れることになり、やがてアパートを借りて日本とNYを行ったり来たりということを4年ほど経験しました。あの頃は、今思えば観光客の視点で全てがキラキラしていたし、仕事で休みができればすぐにNYに戻って暮らすという生活でした。あの頃は、今僕が暮らしているNYとは別の世界です。とにかく危険やスリルにあふれていて、人々も面白くて高齢者も元気でファンキーでした。

DJ: ニューヨークでの初めてのギグはどんな感じでしたか?

SO: ニュースクール大学に在学中、イスラエルから来てたベース、コネチカット出身のドラム、そして僕がピアノという3人でセントマークスにあるコリアンレストランで、ジャズ好きの経営者に誘われてトリオで演奏しました。これが最初のギグです。そのとき近所にあったコリアンスーパーでチップを投げてもらう入れ物を買ったのですが、それが小さな一人用のご飯を
炊く釜だったのです。その釜は最近までずっとご飯を炊くのに使っていました。つい最近割れてしまったのですが、思い出の品でした。

DJ: あなたがここにきてから、ニューヨークの音楽シーンはどのように変わりましたか?

SO: 最近ではライブハウスがだいぶ少なくなり、観光客がたくさん来る有名なベニューとローカルの人々が集う場所という二極化が進んでいました。ホテルのロビーのラウンジなどで演奏するジャズなども少なくなり、街からどんどん音が消えていくのが寂しかったのですが、皮肉な事にこのパンデミックでライブハウスが閉まったことで街のあちこちで音楽が復活しつつあります。ソロやバンド、ビッグバンドも街角で演奏しています。ライブハウスはクローズしたまま、イベントは全て中止となり、ミュージシャンも失業保険に頼らずえない、生活は僕も苦しいですが音楽は楽しい。それが最近の音楽事情です。

DJ: 音楽的に東京とニューヨークはどんな違いがありますか?オーディエンスも違いますか?

SO: 東京はなんでもあるし、世界中から演奏家もやってくる巨大なマーケットで、NYと比べて負けてない感じです。ただNYはオペラやバレエ、そしてジャズもクラシックもそうですが、シャンパンを飲みながら安い値段の席でも日常感覚で音楽を楽しめるので東京もそうなればいいなあと願ってます。東京の観客はルールを守って場の空気を読む人が多く、マナーやお行儀がとてもいいと思います。NYはとにかく「自分が楽しむ」ために音楽を聴きに来るので、観客は大変に能動的です。どちらがいいかというと僕はNYの方がやりやすいです。乗せられやすいタイプなので、観客の声援や反応が大きいとつい普段以上に張り切って演奏してしまいます。

DJ: 音楽的なインピレーションを誰から受けていますか?

SO: セロニアスモンク、ビルエバンス、バートバカラック、ハービーハンコック、アントニオカルロスジョビン、ラベル、バック、、、、。

DJ: もし、演奏したり作曲などしていなければ、何をしていたと思いますか?

SO: 60歳なので会社勤めをしていればそろそろ引退の年です。しかし毎日同じ時間に会社に行って帰る生活に適していない性格なので、音楽以外だと時間や日々のスケジュールを自分で組み立てて柔軟な時間割で働ける職業に就いていたでしょう。例えば、、、不動産とか。

#DFNYFocus On: Carol Bodie

The DFNY Focus is a five question survey for film makers/lovers about what kinds of films stay with them and why. Today we talk with Talent Agent/Manager Carol Bodie.



 

DFNY: What is a film that you love that might surprise people who know you?
CB: People would be surprised that I love to dance…so, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, because I became obsessed with dancing (and Danskin bodysuits) after seeing that movie.  It gave guys my age permission to dance and Travolta made it “cool” to dance which was fun for me as a teenager.

DFNY: If you could pair up any two actors/actresses, living or dead, to appear in a “Dream Flick” together, which two would it be, and what kind of film?
CB:  A young Daniel Day Lewis and a young Jessica Lange in an epic love story.


DFNY: Which film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?
CB: I love mob movies, because my father would take me to opening night of any Scorsese film or Godfather movie when I was a kid… no matter how age-inappropriate! My favorite being CASINO, because DeNiro and Sharon Stone remind me so much of my parents, they had a similar dynamic and style.
I also love tearjerkers and love to cry during a movie.  I’ve probably watched TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and LOVE STORY a million times.


DFNY: If you could have one prop from any film, what would it be?
CB:  ARTWORK.  I love set design and art in movies…so any painting from POLLOCK or BASQUIAT…or Willem Dafoe’s paintings in ETERNITY’S GATE.
There’s a great Alex Katz painting in Meryl Streep’s house in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA that I would love!


DFNY: Is there any subject matter which you would not make/watch a film about?
CB: I hate rape scenes or any abuse of animals.

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Carol Bodie was a talent agent for many years and transitioned into her own management/production company, art2perform, a few years ago.

art2perform website:

Listening To Springsteen In Japan

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(Blinded By The Light – Warner Bros. Pictures/ New Line Cinema /Entertainment One)

I was lucky to catch the film Blinded by the Light at the Tokyo International Film Festival at the last minute (thank you Naozo!).  Director Gurinder Chadha’s film captures the experiences of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor growing up as a young Pakistani immigrant in England in the 1980’s and is based on Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll. 

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(The Boss with journalist Sarfraz Manzoor)

It was interesting to me as an American who had grown up listening to Springsteen’s music to see how much of an impact it had on a young man from a different country and culture, struggling in his adopted country, while I was watching the film in a THIRD country (Japan) going through my own challenges living in a different country.

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(Bruce with director Gurinder Chadha)

I wasn’t a hardcore Springsteen fan per se (I was actually a David Bowie fan, which led to some memorable battles in the sixth grade!), but growing up in the Tri-State area in the early 1980’s, it was hard NOT to listen to The Boss.  In fact, I’m not sure exactly when I first heard Bruce’s music, but at my upstate New York summer camp, they played Born to Run on repeat over the loudspeakers so many times that it feels like that album is the soundtrack to my early childhood.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1987 (coincidentally the same year that Manzoor’s memoir and film are set in) and I was having very similar experiences as him (the pains of young love, wondering where life would take me, and a desire to be somewhere else) that I began to listen to a ton of Springsteen while driving alone at night – specifically Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, and of course, Born To Run.

Now listening to Springsteen in Japan (again on repeat, but now on Spotify!), I’m mentally brought back from here to a very different time and place, and realizing just how much his music captures the essence of the American spirit – a desire for exploration and aspirations for a better life while also being tinged with the difficulties of life and the struggles that so many go through.

From driving in a car as a teenager to flying halfway around the world in a jet airplane thirty-plus years later, I’m finally realizing that I truly was born to run, and looking forward to seeing where the (thunder?) road takes me next!

Blinded by the Light Wikipedia Entry:

 

Kawaii Halloween At Kawaii Monster Cafe In Harajuku

Kawaii Halloween!

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What better way can there be to celebrate Halloween in Tokyo than at a place that literally has the word MONSTER in the name?  Harajuku’s most surreal gathering spot, the Kawaii Monster Cafe (designed by local artist Sebastian Masuda, the “Kawaii King”), is like a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory after it having had all its candy-making machines set to KAWAII!

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While it can seem like it’s Halloween everyday in Harajuku with its legions of Kawaii culture adherents and fans of dressing up in colorful cosplay outfits, October 31st brings out an even larger than usual number of costumed revelers to the storied area.

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(Pink Warriors’ Dance show set on KMC’s famed giant revolving cake-stage!)

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(Even the food gets in on the colorful act at KMC!)

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(Dessert is as colorful as the rest of KMC!)

The Kawaii Monster Cafe seems to be the natural place for Halloween revelers to gather, whether it’s as the starting point for a late night out, or as a place to spend the night and celebrate with characters like mascot Choppy, Pink Fat Cat and also watch performers like Pink Warriors and Tempura Kids with their colorful costumes that are a perfect fit for Halloween!

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(Checking out Choppy & Pink Fat Cat)

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With its guests wearing a mix of costumes both kawaii (cute) and kowai (scary), the Kawaii Monster Cafe is the must-go-to place for any serious Halloween revelers in Tokyo!  Looking forward to seeing how the party grows next year!

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Kawaii Monster Cafe is located at:
4-31-10 Jingumae
4F YM Square Bldg
Shibuya 150-0001

Tel +81-3-5413-6142

KMC Website:

Kawagoe – Memories Of A Distant Japan

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Getting off the train at Kawagoe Station, it at first feels like any of the dozens (if not hundreds) of similar areas scattered throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area.  The usual assortment of shops, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants give way to an even larger mix of stores, pachinko parlors, and karaoke bars as one makes the fifteen-minute or so walk towards the Kurazukuri historical area that is separated from the station not just by distance, but seemingly by time.

Approaching the older part of the city, it’s immediately striking to see the black-tinged buildings that hint at previous encounters with damaging fires that were apparently held at bay by the local builder’s historical expertise at building structures with multiple layers of clay to help defend from fire damage.  Looking up at most of the remaining buildings, one can see the unique interlocking structures of massive window shutters that were designed to be shut to an almost paper’s-width thickness to block out fire.

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But it’s hard to imagine such conflagrations on a beautiful October day walking along the central Chuo street with hundreds of other visitors to a city that has retained all the charms of a time long past.

An interesting feature of Kawagoe shops is that many have retained the old sign-boards of prior businesses, so you might find a clothing store with a sign for an old knife-maker in front, or an ice-cream shop that was previously a rice seller, etc.

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Speaking of knife-makers, there is one shop, Machikan, with an impressive array of what seem to be razor-sharp tools, knives, and even farming implements.  The young man behind the counter took a break from his work at the whetstone to give an enthusiastic explanation of the hamon (blade patterns) on a beautiful collection of katana and naginata blades that would be at home in any museum.

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The enthusiasm of locals for their culture and history didn’t stop there – I was fortunate to be able to just join a guided tour that had started at the Kawagoe City Art Museum given by a woman with more than enough energy to overcome any tourist’s jetlag.  She possessed an intimate knowledge of the area’s rich history as both an ally and friendly rival to Tokyo.  She mentioned how visitors to Tokyo (then called Edo) were so impressed by the neighboring city’s opulence, returned to Kawagoe, and then had luxurious (but hollow) adornments added to the top of their buldings.

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Additionally, the name Edo for Tokyo, led to Kawagoe becoming known as “Koedo” or “Little Edo” (小江戸)  – a name which seems to have been taken by the current local craft beer, Coedo (but spelled with a “C,” possibly to avoid appearing to have an official connection to the city?).

Further encounters which included a kindly book-binder in another well-preserved building (that had previously been a livestock feed-producer), along with many friendly food vendors, souvenir shop owners, restaurant & ice-cream store workers, led me to believe that there is not one merchant in Kawagoe that does not have both a pride in their city, as well as a friendly spirit that seems to be fading in their neighboring city, Tokyo.

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It seems that for neighboring Tokyo residents, Kawagoe has a very strong attraction.  While Tokyo has remnants of old townscapes that were not successful and have been taken over by new businesses, Kawagoe managed to have similarly old areas develop thriving businesses early on.

The old towns in Tokyo have had their beautiful old buildings mercilessly torn down by large developers and replaced with new buildings that seem to be all of one design, and by doing so, the loss of those towns’ individuality continues.

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I’m curious to find out more about the process of how Kawagoe goes about preserving their classic look while at the same time allowing for new building construction.  In the meantime, it can definitely be said that Kawagoe seems to be a city that’s worth it to residents of Tokyo to take a day and visit, so it must be doubly so for foreign visitors as well!

Koedo-Kawagoe Website:

 

DFNYFocus On: Filmmaker Anna Takayama

ANNA TAKAYAMA was born in New York and raised in Tokyo. Her first short film, Neko Sees All, screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival as part of its Narrative Short Program, “Mixed Emotions,” and made its online debut on Kentucker Audley’s NoBudge.com. She is currently working on her second short film, The Voice Actress, which tells the story of a veteran voice actress living in Tokyo.

Q:   What is a film that you love that might surprise people who know you?
A: “The Brave Little Toaster” (1987). I think about this movie a lot. I love the idea of these banal everyday objects coming to life and going on an adventure looking for their owner. It’s kind of like the original Toy Story.
Q:   If you could pair up any two actors/actresses, living or dead, to appear in a “Dream Flick” together, which two would it be & what kind of film?
A: Setsuko Hara and Isabelle Huppert in a remake of “Mulholland Drive” (but set in Cinecitta like in “Contempt”)
Q:  Which film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?
A: “Stranger than Paradise”. My mom told me she skipped school one day to go see this film on repeat at a (now defunct) arthouse theater in Tokyo. I think that was probably the first indie arthouse film I ever watched… I also think this film might be one of the reasons why I came to NY.
Q: If you could have one prop from any film what would it be?
A: Flubber. Hands down.
Q: Is there any subject matter which you would not make/watch a film about?
A: Hmm… maybe military films. And films that show kids and animals being harmed.
#TheVoiceActress Kickstarter Campaign Is Live:

 

 

DFNYFocus On: Le Cinéma (@lecinema_)

Le Cinéma Can Also Be Found At Instagram, Posting “Pictures Of Films We Love” – Thank You For Your #DFNYFocus!

https://www.instagram.com/lecinemaig/

Q: What is a film that you love that might surprise people who know you?

A: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. I used to love Jim Carrey and this film so much when I was a child and I still watch it from time to time. It brings me happy memories.

Q: If you could pair up any two actors/actresses, living or dead, to appear in a “Dream Flick” together, which two would it be & what kind of film?

A: I would have loved to see a volcanic Anna Magnani and a cerebral Isabelle Huppert in a Pedro Almodóvar film.
Q: Which film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?

A: It may sound cliché, but ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ changed my vision of cinema. I was 16 and I had never seen something as mesmerizing, as visually beautiful. It blew me away and still does.
Q: If you could have one prop from any film what would it be?

A: The winged puppet from La double vie de Véronique.
Q: Is there any subject matter which you would not make/watch a film about?
A: Animal cruelty.