Otanjoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu Kurosawa-sama! [Guest Blog by skycastles]

by skycastles

A big mahalo goes out to Ed for letting this wannabe blog about movies the entire day and to the two readers of my humble movie blog who apparently twisted Ed’s arm to get me today’s spot in the line up. Much love!

Happy Birthday Kurosawa-sama! Today Akira Kurosawa, the prolific Japanese director, would have been 100 years old. I found this website, AK 100 Project, which celebrates his life and work. (You’ll need to run it through Google Translate though because it’s all in Japanese.)

It’s amazing to me that one person could produce so many significant movies in a lifetime. Like all good art, his films went on to affect his contemporaries and future generations. According to Wikipedia, Kurosawa’s films have influenced some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, such as Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola.

However, despite Kurosawa’s accomplishments, the role of Asians in cinema is still quite limited. In Hollywood, on-screen roles are extremely few and far between (unless, of course, the Asian person is playing the exotic beauty or martial arts expert). Behind the camera, it seems like Asians are pigeonholed into making high-flying action movies. In addition, most mainstream movie-goers aren’t familiar with the films coming out of Japan, China, Korea, India, Thailand, etc.

While I enjoyed Charlie’s Angels and Rush Hour as much as the next person, I’m more interested in seeing aspects of life from an Asian perspective with an Asian cast. The best representation that pops into my mind is The Joy Luck Club. Unlike Picture Bride or Memoirs of a Geisha, which are firmly established in a historical setting, The Joy Luck Club captures a modern life and all the assorted issues that go along with that from an Asian American viewpoint.

Do you know of any other films like this worth passing on to the World Wide Ed ohana? Who is your favorite Asian actor/actress? What do you think about Hollywood casting white actors in roles written for or based on Asians (aka “white washing”)? Examples of this are 21 (about the MIT students who used their math abilities to count cards in Vegas), the upcoming film The Last Airbender (Most of the cast is white, except for the villain who is played by Dev Patel. That right there is an entirely different issue altogether, where people of color are only cast as the bad guys. I won’t even get into that discussion.) and Dragonball Evolution (starring Justin Chatwick as Goku). Similarly, what do you think of Jake Gyllenhaal playing Prince Dastan in the upcoming Prince of Persia? Does casting always have to be about the bankability of an actor? What about the integrity of the script? When and how will Asians become viable options as leading men and women? Or have they already achieved this status but are just continually overlooked because of the politics of movie making?

The Guest Blog Schedule:

  • THU 03/11 – Chicken Grease – “TheGrease and TheBus”
  • FRI 03/12 – kuya.d – “I’m So Over It”
  • MON 03/15 – JMAW – “Something like a Phenomenon”
  • TUE 03/16 – frankie – “The Curse of the Murse”
  • WED 03/17 – kako mochi – “Where in Oregon is kako mochi?”
  • THU 03/18 – tweetpeep22 – “Online Dating Follies – Female Perspective”
  • FRI 03/19 – S-Ticket – “Online Dating Follies – Male Perspective”
  • MON 03/22 – tita leerz – “The Hawaii Visitor’s Survival Guide”
  • TUE 03/23 – skycastles – “Otanjoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu Kurosawa-sama!”
  • WED 03/24 – hemajang – “Where in Hawaii is hemajang?”
  • THU 03/25 – uncle jimmy – “Grab One, Leave One, and Get Reel…”

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