Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s sprawling mural will soon welcome travelers at Sendai Airport


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Surely any list of Japan’s greatest animators and directors must include Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind the likes of Akira, Domu, and Steamboy. Otomo’s distinctive mix of neo-futurism, cyberpunk, and dark humor has earned him both a legion of fans and numerous accolades throughout the world.

We mentioned in a previous article that Otomo would be designing a giant mural for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport. Now it looks like the wait is almost over. The 12-ton mural, which depicts a squat, bespectacled boy sitting astride a cybernetic carp flanked by the gods of wind and lightning, will be unveiled on March 12, one day after the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Working off Otomo’s original illustration, CREARE Atami-Yugawara Studio fired 451 individual clay parts to produce the final product. At 2.8 meters high and 8.7 meters wide, the relief will no doubt make even the busiest traveller stop and marvel at its sheer size and artistry.

▼ A look at the design process

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.49.27 PM

▼ This thing really is quite spectacular

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 2.15.58 PM

Fans of Otomo’s work will recognize some of his visual motifs in the form of the cybernetic carp. Equally striking is the expression of defiance on the young rider’s face–a tribute to the people of Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered extensive damage in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Regarding his motivations behind the project, Otomo was recently quoted as saying: “I hope it will spark children’s interest and serve as an opportunity for them to discuss the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath with their parents.”

Travelers within Japan might soon be making a point of passing through Sendai Airport, if only to catch a glimpse of the impressive mural.

Daniel Dae Kim makes directorial debut on episode of Hawaii Five-O

Production kicks off Tuesday on Kim’s episode, which will feature McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny (Scott Caan) spending some time together while staking out the apartment of a beautiful criminal in order to catch her even more dangerous accomplice. As EW first exclusively revealed, this episode also features Cloris Leachman as a nosy neighbor.

I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to direct for a long time and I’m glad it’s with Five-0,” Kim says. “Peter Lenkov and the production team have been nothing but supportive, and I’m excited to work with my cast mates in a fresh new way. After working on a show for 100 episodes it’s easy to ‘take your foot off the gas’ a bit, but this has reinvigorated me in a great way.”

Adds EP Lenkov: “We are so thrilled to have Daniel direct this really fun episode. He knows our show inside and out, understands what fans love about Hawaii Five-0 and his creativity will be a welcomed asset. I’m proud he feels comfortable enough to take this leap with his Five-0 ‘ohana.”

Get to know actress, writer and filmmaker Ayako Fujitani


 Audrey Magazine:

When her latest film Man From Reno won the top prize at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival this summer, Ayako Fujitani was initially confused. “Dave [Boyle, the director,] told me, ‘We won!’ and I said, ‘For what?’” she remembers. She laughs. “I had forgotten it was a competition! The project had come such a long way from the [initial] Kickstarter [fundraising campaign]. We had such a tough time even finishing the movie, and we were super happy to even get in the L.A. Film Festival. So when we won, we were super shocked and surprised, in a good way.”

This is the second time the hapa actress (born to Japanese aikido master Miyako Fujitani and American action star Steven Seagal) has worked with Boyle, the first experience being in his 2012 black- and-white indie romance Daylight Savings, in which she had a supporting role as Goh Nakamura’s ex- girlfriend. After that wrapped, Boyle was working on a crime film that started out as a pair of simultaneous mystery stories with vastly different protagonists, a Japanese writer and an elderly sheriff. The sheriff character, who’d eventually be played by Pepe Serna, came from an unproduced screenplay Boyle had written previously, but the Japanese writer Aki was a new addition and written with Fujitani in mind.

I think she has a unique cerebral soulfulness about her that was perfect for the part of Aki,” says Boyle. “While the sheriff’s storyline is more of a traditional police procedural, Aki’s is a bit more emotional and character driven. She is the classic amateur sleuth, but she has secrets of her own that make her darker than your average heroine.”

Aki is a very successful Japanese mystery novel writer who’s not happy about her success for some reason,” explains Fujitani of her bilingual character. “She runs away from her book tour to San Francisco — and runs into a real mystery.”

During post-screening Q&As during the film’s festival run, Fujitani remembers Boyle joking that after she got involved, the Aki character suddenly became super dark. “Before, the character didn’t feel too much regret or sadness,” says Fujitani. “But if she was happy, no one would really care about what she goes through.”

man from reno

[Once] we realized how game Ayako would be to push the character further and further into the darkness, she made all three of us [Boyle and co-writers Joel Clark and Michael Lerman] braver as writers to make the character rougher around the edges. Her fearlessness gave us confidence,” says Boyle.

Though Fujitani wouldn’t describe herself as the type of actress who practices method acting, it was difficult for her to get Aki out of her head. Part of the reason was because they shot many of the film’s foreboding scenes in a hotel room in San Francisco, which was right next door to the actual hotel room where Fujitani stayed during the weeks they were filming in the city. “When you’re basically on the set in the same hotel room the whole time, it’s almost impossible to forget the character,” she says. “It helped my acting a lot, to get into the maze of this world, but I felt like I had no way out.” She laughs.

So after I finished the movie, it was like, I need to go to Hawaii or something!”

A relaxing vacation wasn’t in the cards, however, because Fujitani, also a filmmaker herself, has been working on numerous projects that take her back and forth between the U.S., Japan and Korea. Her short film The Doors, shot entirely on an iPhone 5 without any special lenses, recently played at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. (It was originally made for the Olleh International Smartphone Film Festival in South Korea.) She also co-wrote a four-episode short film series, A Rose Reborn, a collaboration between acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook and the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, which stars Daniel Wu and Jack Huston. She is currently developing another Korean short film, a dark comedy that follows a nervous, picky, routine-driven businessman.

She’s very confident and has a great eye and ear for unusual characters and interesting dialogue,” says Boyle of Fujitani’s work as a writer and director. In fact, he often relied on Fujitani’s instincts when it came to the Japanese-language scenes in Man from Reno, which also stars actors Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuyo Shiba, Hiroshi Watanabe and Tetsuo Kuramochi. “We worked with a lot of great translators during the scriptwriting process to make sure the Japanese version would be up to snuff, but a couple of days before we started shooting, Ayako and I did a last brush up that did amazing things for the movie,” says Boyle. “Having her ear at our disposal was huge.”

Man from Reno, which has also won awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and Wichita’s Tallgrass International Film Festival, has a theatrical release planned for next spring. Next up, Fujitani is off to shoot a film with Japanese director Takashi Miike, known for bloody cult films such as Ichi the Killer, Audition and 13 Assassins. “After I had been in Korea for a while, I visited Japan, and as soon as I arrived and turned on my Japanese cell phone — which is never on when I’m in another country — I get a call from Miike’s producer,” says Fujitani of the role she seemed fated to get. A fan of Miike’s work, Fujitani said yes before she even read the script. She plays a nurse in a medical drama about doctors from Nagasaki, Japan, going to Kenya. “This is a departure for him,” she says. “It is definitely not one of the horror, crazy-in-a-good-way films that Miike is known for.”



Director Collet-Serra hopes live-action Akira will be his next work

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In interviews with entertainment news websites Collider and ComingSoon, director Jaume Collet-Serra, who was previously in talks to work on Warner Brothers‘ stalled live-action Akira film project, mentioned that he’s still working on the film, and that he hopes it will be his next one.

Variety reported last August that Collet-Serra was possibly rejoining the project, stating that, if he returned, he would direct the project in Spring 2014. Warner stalled the project in 2012 to revise the script so it would be less costly. Akira manga creator and anime director Katsuhiro Otomo was reportedly going to oversee the project as executive producer.

Of the adaptation, Collet-Serra told ComingSoon that he will have to be “respectful of the source material” and that he hopes to “take the spirit of it and adapt it. It will be as different as the anime was from the manga.” Of the changes he hopes to make he said:

I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don’t think the main characters are the protagonists… That’s part of the Japanese culture, they never have strong characters. They’re used as a way to move the other philosophy forward.

Collet-Serra has worked on two movies since his talks in August, the second of which, Non-Stop, will be out in theaters on February 28.

Sources: ColliderComingSoon

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Director Collet-Serra hopes live-action Akira will be his next work


Director Jaume Collet-Serra talks about his vision for AKIRA


Back in 2011, Jaume Collet-Serra was set to direct the live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s manga and cult 1988 anime, with Garrett Hedlund in the in the lead role as Kaneda. However the studio decided $90 million budget was too big for the film and pulled the plug on the project. A year later the director, got back on the project and is currently trying to scale it down. Here’s what he had to say when asked if he was still working on the project,

“I’m still working on “Akira,” so that’s part of my life”. says the director, It’s great that they’re waiting for me. It’s different, because you have to be respectful of the source material. Otomo adapted his own work from a manga into an anime and both things are completely different and genius. The only way to do a live version of “Akira” is to take the spirit and adapt it. It will be as different as the anime was from the manga.

The interviewer then asked if the director was going to bring something new to the table,

“I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don’t think the main characters are the protagonists. What I’m hoping is to bring characters. The director added, “Yeah. So hopefully in my version that will be strong, and you’ll have a story that happens in that world that will show you a little bit of the mystery. Then, if you’re interested, they’ll make “Akira 2 & 3” then you can get deeper into it. I love the world, a lot of people love that world, so why wouldn’t we indulge in it a little bit and see how it would be if it was real? Like you say I don’t have to explain everything, but wouldn’t you like to spend two-hours in a world of “Akira” and follow a character and be like, “that’s cool”? That’s all I want to offer, is two-hours in a world you can actually feel. We’re working on it.

Seems like the director is passionate about the project and wants to make it work. If all goes well, we could see the film in the next few years or so.

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Director Jaume Collet-Serra talks about his vision for AKIRA


Justin Lin to direct drama pilot “Scorpion”

CBS has given a pilot order to Scorpion, a drama from Nick Santora, Justin Lin, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. The project, which had a put pilot commitment, was written by Breakout Kings co-creator Santora and will be directed by Fast & Furious’ Lin, with CBS TV Studios producing. It centers on an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age.

Scorpion was inspired by the true story of Walter O’Brien (hacker name “Scorpion”), CEO of global think tank Scorpion Computer Services. A man with one of the world’s highest documented IQs (1 in 1.5B people), O’Brien became a real-life Professor X and recruited and trained other geniuses from around the world to work together to save lives and solve problems from casino security to Military Drone warfare. Executive producing Scorpion are Santora, Lin, O’Brien, K/O Paper Products’ Kurtzman, Orci and Heather Kadin and SB Prods.’ Scooter Braun, with SB’s Danny Rose and Danielle Woodrow of Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment co-exec producing, and SB’s Scott Manson and Perfect Storm’s Troy Craig Poon producing.

This is a second pilot order this season for CBS TV Studios-based K/O, along with terrorism drama Identity at the CW.

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Justin Lin to direct drama pilot “Scorpion”


Justin Lin to direct remake of Jet Li’s “The Shaolin Temple”

Film Business Asia: 

Justin Lin to direct Shaolin Temple remake


Justin Lin has signed on to direct Beijing Enlight Pictures Co Ltd’s 3-D remake of The Shaolin Temple , the film that launched the career of Jet Li.

The news was first reported online by China’s Sina this morning. It has since been confirmed on the Weibo microblog accounts of Beijing Enlight Media Co Ltd and its CEO Wang Changtian.

Wang unveiled the project in Aug 2012, announcing a production partnership with the Shaolin Temple. The script has since been approved by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

In October, Wang wrote on Weibo that an unnamed director has been chosen for the project and that pre-production is expected to take two years.

Lin is currently attached to direct the next film in the Bourne franchise, currently set for release in Aug 2015. He is also serving as the executive producer on Fast & Furious 7The Shaolin Temple remake will be his first Chinese-language film.

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Justin Lin to direct remake of Jet Li’s “The Shaolin Temple”


“Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings” (documentary) wins Gotham Audience Award

Congratulations to Tad Nakamura, director of the feature documentary Jake Shimaubukuro: Life on Four Strings, which won the Audience Award last week at The Gotham Independent Film Awards. This was no small feat, considering that Tad’s humble doc about internationally renown ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro was up against huge critical darlings like 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station.


Quentin Tarantino on the Allure of Asian Cinema


When Quentin Tarantino made an unexpected visit to the 18th Busan International Film Festival earlier this month, he took time to have a chat with South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho about the timeless inspiration of genre movies and Asian cinema.

I came here quite impulsively actually,” said Tarantino, who arrived from an awards ceremony in Macau. He recalled watching Bong’s “The Host” for the first time and being so “blown away” he later screened it along with “Memories of Murder” at a retro theater he owns in Los Angeles.

Of all the filmmakers out there in the last 20 years, he has something that [1970s] Spielberg has. There is this level of entertainment and comedy in his films. [‘The Host’ and ‘Memories of Murder’] are both masterpieces… great in their own way,” he said. Bong on the other hand, vividly remembers the shock of seeing “Pulp Fiction” as a film student in 1994.

The two cineastes may have met only recently — and have since hung out talking about movies over drinks — but have a lot in common. Both grew up watching genre movies and now make their own respective brand of genre films with the same stock of actors.

Tarantino believes genre movies allow you to tap into your inner child.

There are things that, since the time you’re a kid, [you] associate with going to the movies. As you get older and sophisticated your taste can change and you can actually appreciate a wide variety of movies. But when you’re drawn to genre movies you’re drawn to that excitement of those initial movie experiences,” he said.

As a kid in the 1970s and ’80s the filmmaker was a fan of Hong Kong and Taiwanese martial arts films, Japanese sci-fi or monster movies, and Italian spaghetti westerns and cop movies. Among them, Ishiro Honda, the creator of Japanese monster films, “is one of the greatest directors of science fiction along with Spielberg.” Honda is best known for his kaiju (monster) and tokusatsu (special effects) films such as the Godzilla series, but is also known for his collaborations with film director Akira Kurosawa. Tarantino also learned about “the inhuman brutality” of Japan’s occupation of Korea through the work of Hong Kong-based Korean director Huang Feng “even before the history books.”

Though he continues to learn from the great masters, however, he tries to reinvent the genre in his own way. “I love Sergio Leone… but they’re movies that are a product of their times. I’m trying to do the 2013 perspective.”

Likewise, Bong, also a fan of 1970s films, says he tries to bring a Korean twist to the genre. “In the U.S., scientists, soldiers, and muscular superheroes fight against monsters, but in [‘The Host’] a Korean family, a messed up, really idiotic one at that, fights the monster.”

Tarantino agreed, saying, “It’s funny because the whole idea that a family, not just any family, but a weird, [messed] up family like in ‘The Host’ would be the stars is unfathomable in the U.S. or any country. That is recreating the genre.”

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Quentin Tarantino on the Allure of Asian Cinema


Transformers 4 production in Hong Kong hit for a second time by triads


For the second time in a week, suspected Hong Kong organized crime syndicates — known better as triads — have targeted the production of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” being filmed in the Chinese territory.

Four men attempted to extort an undisclosed sum of money from a crew member inspecting a rooftop shot location in the district of Kowloon Tuesday, the Hong Kong Police told CNN.

Police arrested and charged one 35-year old man with blackmail but his three partners remain at-large.

The attempted shakedown follows a suspected triad incident October 17 in which two men assaulted Transformers director Michael Bay.

Bay, 48, explained that every vendor that experienced disruptions from filming in the area “got paid a fair price for our inconvenience” but one man “wanted four times that amount” — around $13,000 (100,000 Hong Kong dollars).

I personally told this man and his friends to forget it,” said Bay. “We were not going to let him extort us. He didn’t like that answer.

The man returned an hour later, “carrying a long air-conditioner unit,” added Bay. “He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face, but I ducked threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away.”

Hong Kong police arrested two brothers in connection with the incident.

In both episodes, triads — known for their dealings in smuggling, prostitution and illegal gambling — are believed to be involved.

The two incidents associated with Transformers are indicative of low-level attempts to extort money from a big production by persons who may be triad members,” said Steve Vickers, former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force‘s Criminal Intelligence Bureau and now CEO of Steve Vickers and Associates, a specialist political and corporate risk consultancy.

The separate side of this is that the triad control of the movie industry in Hong Kong is a very complicated issue and has been in place for many years,” added Vickers. “The triads strangle the oxygen out of the local movie scene. They’re not just extorting people for money. It’s control of movies, starlets and distribution.”

In recent years, triad-related crimes in general have been on the rise, according to crime statistics from the Hong Kong Police Force.

For three years in a row, from 2010 to 2012, the number of triad-linked incidents rose nearly 15%. Most recent data for the first half of 2013, however, shows 988 triad-related crimes — the second lowest reported number for the same time period over the past decade.

But “reported crime is not an accurate measure of triad influence,” said Vicker. “Triad related crimes are under reported.”

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Transformers 4 production in Hong Kong hit for a second time by triads