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© 2013 Railway Man Pty Ltd, Railway Man Limited, Screen Queensland Pty Limited, Screen NSW and Screen Australia

While many Japanese actors dream of going international, few succeed. Tanroh Ishida has taken a different route, starting his career abroad and working his way up to international co-productions. The son of a Noh actor, he began stage training at the tender age of three. He later studied in London, equipping himself with both Eastern and Western classical training. After graduating, he decided to stay on in the UK to found a theater company blending Japanese and English styles. Acclaimed performances led to small parts in British films, including a Japanese businessman opposite Colin Firth in Gambit. His latest work is a key role in Railway Man, based on the memoir by British POW Eric Lomax. Ishida plays Takashi Nagase, an interpreter for the Japanese Imperial Army forcing British soldiers to construct the Burmese railway. When Lomax (Firth) is plagued by psychological problems decades later, his wife (Nicole Kidman) encourages him to make amends with the man he associates with his torture played by Hiroyuki Sanada in later scenes. “It was a double challenge for me,” Ishida said at the Japan premiere of the film. “I not only had to play Nagase, I had to play a young version of Sanada, one of Japan’s greatest actors.”

Railway Man opens in Japan April 19.


By: Kevin Mcgue | Apr 2, 2014 | No Comments | 807 views

Photo by Kevin Mcgue

Chilean actress Paulina García has enjoyed opportunities not often afforded to Hollywood actresses. She took on the title role in Gloria, a divorcee in her late 50s who refuses to give up on life, and her enthralling performance earned her the best actress award at last year’s Berlinale. “That is why we won’t get the Oscar,” García told Metropolis during a recent trip to Tokyo. “There are not many films about women this age.” The film was Chile’s official submission for the best film in a foreign language category, but failed to make the short list. However, her Berlin triumph has opened new doors in theater and film for the actress. But at the age of 53, she is troubled by ageism in the film world. “Meryl Streep is an exception and she will be working until she is 90, but it is very hard for other actresses,” García says. “Jack Nicholson is fat, bald and old now, but still is a great actor and gets offers. But [Chinatown costar] Faye Dunaway, who is still so beautiful, can’t get work.”

Gloria is now playing at Human Trust Cinemas in  Shibuya and Yurakucho (


By: Kevin Mcgue | Mar 3, 2014 | No Comments | 92 views

Photo: Kevin Mcgue

The sleeper hit The Butler chronicles the American civil rights movement through the lens of one African-American family from the ‘40s up through Obama’s historic first election.The casual, hands-on approach of director Lee Daniels, who always wears pajamas to the set (and interviews), meant the cast and crew were like family, despite this being his biggest project to date. “On my films everyone rolls up their sleeves and works,” Daniels told Metropolis during his first visit to Japan. “And you’ll see big stars standing in line to get lunch with people from the craft services department.” The “no entourage” rule even applied to one of the most powerful people in the entertainment world—Oprah Winfrey took her first major screen role in 15 years to play the wife of the titular servant (Forest Whitaker) who saw eight presidents pass through the White House. “She shows up and is like ‘I’m here!’” Daniels explains, singing the line. “I thought, ‘How am I going to make her this character?’ But I like a challenge and gradually we peeled away the layers of the onion and got her to a place where she was vulnerable and ready for the role.” The Butler is now playing nationwide.


By: Kevin Mcgue | Feb 21, 2014 | No Comments | 940 views

Photo by Kevin Mcgue

When Ron Howard recently visited Tokyo for the Japanese premiere of his latest directorial effort Rush, it was something of a second homecoming for the film. The drama focuses on the intense friendship and rivalry between ’70s racing drivers Niki Lauda (played by German actor Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Aussie Chris Hemsworth) with the climactic scene set at the rain-soaked Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka. “We were shooting the races in England and we had very limited time when we could be on these Formula One tracks,” Howard recalled. “Fortunately it was England and there was a lot of rain and I would say, ‘we’re not going home guys, we’re going to Japan’ and we would work on those scenes.” Mount Fuji was digitally added in the background to complete the look. The director says the sequence is his favorite in the film and the fact that the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix is so well known, especially among Japanese fans, provided a special challenge. “There was the combination of the demands of recreating that mythic race and also linking these complex characters emotionally in the outcome of that race.” Filming high-speed car races in real rain is something most directors wouldn’t even attempt. But after over a half century in the business, Howard says, “I am at the point in my career when I want some challenges.”


By: Kevin Mcgue | Feb 6, 2014 | No Comments | 1,103 views

Photo by Kevin Mcgu

Following up on his film Drive, which was a relative commercial success for an arthouse fim, director Nicolas Winding Refn reteamed with star Ryan Gosling. Rather than turn out more of the same, the duo decided to return to a project they had set aside, Only God Forgives, which has polarized critics and audiences with its extreme violence and spiritual themes. “After Lou Reed had the success of Transformer, he came out with Metal Machine Music, which was so completely different,” Refn told Metropolis during a recent trip to Tokyo. “After Drive, I said I am going to make my Metal Machine Music.” Gosling plays an American running a boxing gym in Thailand. When his criminal brother is killed by a police lieutenant, crime boss mom (Kristin Scott Thomas, playing against type) shows up to settle the score. “Bangkok is the number one key factor for the story,” Refn explains. “By day it is very westernized, but by night it becomes very Asian. It’s almost like it is a werewolf.” Having made films in his native Denmark, the US and Thailand, does Refn plan to ever film in Japan? “I have always wanted to make a film in Tokyo,” the filmmaker says. “I am just searching for the right story to fit the city.” Only God Forgives opens January 25.


By: Kevin Mcgue | Jan 24, 2014 | No Comments | 1,189 views

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