The last two weeks have seen me taking it easy and catching up with things and people.
Caught the Paul Gauguin exhibit at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo 2 weeks ago. That was enjoyable and the first time his masterpiece "Where do we come from? Who are we? And where are we going?" has been to Japan. Really invigorating stuff.
However, while Japanese museums are nice enough and regularly stocked with masterworks from around the globe, they are kind of annoying in some areas. For one, most paintings are kept behind glass. So, you get glare on everything. They also keep the art behind barriers. The moment you even get near one, security guards rush up to remind you of your perilous proximity to the art work. I even set an alarm off once for daring to get within 3 feet of a Picasso. Additionally, people going to exhibits in Japan are uniformly over-serious. Somber faces are the norm, as they scan over paintings like doctors in search of the cure for cancer. (Where is joy?) Well, Japan is kind of an uptight place and I guess that's never going to change. Still, I had a good time and I'm grateful that Japan is affluent enough that paintings such as this make their way here.
I wrote a new Fangoria piece the other day. It was for the film "God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand," directed by Shusuke Kaneko. The film has finally been picked up by Media Blasters in the West.
I met with Kaneko and we had coffee in Shimokita and both of us tried our best to remember shooting -- from four years ago! I actually had a blast on that set, especially on "cake day." This is a scene in the film where super model Reon Kadena is force fed cake that she vomits up just before having her head cut off. Check out this photo I took on the set. Pretty cool, no?
The next day I met up with Kaneko (again) and my friend Ryoko, who was the star of my film FEED ME. We went to a concert given by Stephanie (star of my new film, "It's All Good") at Shibuya Boxx. The show was jam packed with fans, but lucky for us, Steph's manager Tanaka got us VIP seats, where we sat, oddly enough, on tall silver swivel chairs. I think it was the first time I ever sat at a pop / rock show.
The concert was fantastic. Stephanie is such a dynamic singer and is happy to the point that you can't help but feel happy yourself. The show lasted two hours and my face hurt from smiling so much. Kaneko is kind of funny. He's not really the coolest guy when it comes to music, and seeing him pumping his hand in the air out of time with the music was hysterical. After the show some fans came up to Kaneko to tell him how much they loved "Pride," the film he directed that stars Stephanie. I wonder what they'll make of my Stephanie film... From there we went backstage and hung out with Steph.
Monday saw me over at the "Sophia" screening room in Akasaka (named after Sophia Coppola as she worked there during "Lost in Translation"). Kaneko had invited me to a screening of his latest film "Bakamono." It was a small showing held for the writer of the novel that the film is based on. The movie is a real departure for Kaneko. It's about a man who develops a drinking problem that destroys every relationship in his life. A powerful film and - I admit it - I cried several times! The good news is that the writer loved the adaptation (which was a relief for Kaneko since there had been some tension during preproduction over the script).
Wednesday night I went out with Kaneko, Yagi (Ultraman director), Ryoko and Stephanie for a wonderful dinner in Shibuya. Kaneko started complaining, calling the past week, "my week with Norman." (What can I say? I'm fun to hang out with!) I hadn't seen Yagi since shooting of "It's All Good," so it was nice to talk about the edit of the film and catch up with what he's doing. He's also friends with Ryoko, as they met on the set of FEED ME, and met again when Yagi was in England promoting an Ultraman DVD set last April. Stephanie is tons 'o' fun too. She's witty, bright, and always seems to have something kind to say no matter what the subject. As usual, Kaneko was drilling everyone on Japanese history, his pet subject. At those times I can just play dumb gaijin and zone out. Just a fun night all around.
This weekend will just see more of me staring at my film and trying to figure out the best shape into which to forge it.
Oh, and today I started a new screenplay...