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Posted by Annie on
October 18th, 2003

Samurai swords again on cutting edge in 2 new films

Japanese samurai swords have existed thousands of years, but this year the ancient weapon is Hollywood’s newest toy.

Two new films showcase lead characters wielding the sword – Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” opening this weekend, and “The Last Samurai,” which will be released in December.

The Last Samurai” is set in the late 1870s and features Tom Cruise as a Civil War veteran who arrives in Japan to train the troops of the emperor to help the nation break away from the tradition of relying on employed samurai warriors.

Samurai sword history extends back to feudal Japan and the 12th century. The martial art of using the sword was developed from the earliest times by the warriors of Japan, and from the 14th century on by the samurai. The sword earns its fearsome reputation from its hardness and sharpness and from the fear and respect generated by the men who carried them.

Whenever Hollywood portrays any of the martial arts on the big screen, it’s both a blessing and a curse for southern New Jersey instructors of those disciplines.

On one hand, new audiences are introduced to these disciplines, and the curious stop by their local martial arts school to learn self-defense and discipline, which serious martial arts study instills. On the other hand, no one should walk out of either of the films and think they can buy a samurai sword and replicate what was seen on screen.

Parker, 49, said “Kill Bill” looks good and intrigues him even though “someone flying 100 feet with a sword isn’t realistic.” DeCasien, 70, heard about “The Last Samurai” because one of his swordplay students is interested in it. He knows Cruise is a perfectionist, so DeCasien wants to see the movie to critique the actor’s technique.

Read rest of the article here

TLS pictures

Posted by Annie on
October 17th, 2003

Added TONS of pictures to the gallery. Some old, some new. Mostly, in the TLS category. Look at them here. Tom is also on the cover of TOTAL FILM magazine. See the cover and articles over here. And lastly, Tom is on the cover of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST. Look at the articles, pictures and cover here. Also, the TLS premiere will be held on December 1st, at the Mann’s Chinese theater in Hollywood

EW’s most powerful

Posted by Annie on
October 16th, 2003

EW picks it’s most powerful people in entertainment

EW picks it’s most powerful and creative forces in Entertainment. I’m not quite sure what Spielberg and Hanks did this year to earn them a spot so high on the list, but Tom Cruise made 7.

I’ll scan some pictures tonight and add to the gallery

NEW TLS POSTER

Posted by Annie on
October 15th, 2003

The final poster of The Last Samurai:

poster

Click here for a larger version. And 3 more pictures:

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More TLS news

Posted by Annie on
October 14th, 2003

Good words on TLS
…..”t’s been a busy month of good movies. Usually it’s December that has the goods, but with negative rumors swirling around pics like Cold Mountain and Peter Pan (though people are loving Last Samurai), October’s shaping up pretty nicely with Intolerable Cruelty, Kill Bill, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Mystic River….”

Also, here are some more new pics from TLS.

The Last Samurai review

Posted by Annie on
October 13th, 2003

Coming soon has an early positive review for The Last Samurai

“I recently had the pleasure of watching, at an advance screening in Phoenix, Edward Zwicks’ “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Koyuki, Billy Connelly and Timothy Spall.

The Last Samurai is an exhilirating story about Captain Woodrow Algren (Tom Cruise) who is a Civil War veteran. He is hired by the US government to help Japan construct a modern army. They are not aware of the fact that Captain Algren is actually an alcoholic who is suffering from severe depression due to the trauma he suffered in Civil War.

During that time, Japan is divided into many provinces ruled by the samurai. The samurai were considered to be the protectors of Japan and they were loyal to the royal family. The Emperor Meiji(Shichinosuke Nakamura) wanted to unite all these provinces for various reasons, the most important being money because he will profit when the United Sates and other Western nations and companies purchase goods from them.

The United States wanted to help Japan because Emperor Meiji assured the United States a most favored nation trading status if they help him modernize Japan. Japan is attempting to build railroad in the mountainous region ruled by the samurai but was unable to do so because of some rebelious samurai. Emperor Meiji threaten the samurai with his new build army and the samurai fought back.

The rebel samurai are lead by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) who is a respected warrior and admired by his army of 500 samurai. They live in a village with their families. They show us how the samurai live as a community in villages. Beside Katsumoto who is a fierce warrior we get to know a few other characters.

Then in the year 1876, Captain Algren arrives in Japan and begins his tasks as an advisor to the Japanese government. With the help of Simon Graham (Timothy Spall) who is his English translator, he trains the army. After a month he is ordered to take his army to attack the samurai in the mountain region where they lived. Captain Algren’s ill-trained army was massacred. He is severely wounded in the battle and taken captive by Katsumoto who did not want to kill him because he wanted to study his new enemy so that he could understand whom he is fighting.

After many months of recuperating Algren is allowed by Katsumoto to roam freely throughout the village. Algren begins to understand and respect his captors. He is trained in their ways of fighting and thinking.

The final scene is one of the fiercest battle I have seen in some time. Algren is now fighting for his new family against an army that outnumbers them, but at the same time, a rather emotional moment.

When I first heard of the film, I showed no interest, thinking of another Zwick “Legend of the fall” or your average Tom Cruise action flick. Nor am I a big Cruise fan. And when I first saw the teaser in the theater a while back, I thought the whole thing was a bit on the ridiculous, Hollywood’s-at-it-again side. However, I just got to see the movie, and I was completely blown away. It’s actually very, very good and quite a departure from the normal condescending manner that Hollywood tends to adopt toward foreign cultures.

The soul of the film and my favorite performance was given by Tom Cruise, of course. I mentioned earlier I wasn’t his biggest fan, but this movie truly changed my mind. I find him to be quite an underrated one, in terms of what I read about his acting abilities. His screen presence is completely unmatched in the business today. Take Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Cary Grant and Clark Gable and you got Tom Cruise. I think the fact he is so popular and has a huge star aura (Tom Cruise the overrated Mission Impossible movie star) tends to distract most people from Tom Cruise the great American actor. He has the ability to communicate a lot of emotions with one single facial expression- a technique not taught in acting school at all.

At first, I thought Cruise made a bad mistake in dropping out of Cold Mountain for this one, but since reading Cold Mountain’s awful script and lukewarm first reviews, I think he might have made the right decision after all.

Billy Connelly is unintentionally charming and effortless in the film. However, the biggest surprise for me was Ken Watanabe. I was very impressed with Ken Watanbe’s quiet and understated, yet powerful characterization of the samurai leader. I found his style very reminiscent of the absolutely incredible Toshiro Mifune. He has the same amazing screen presence. His acting is very refreshing compare to the chop-socky style of the Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s of hollywood.

As I said already, the battle scenes are quite impressive. However, this movie is far from just an action flick. The human aspect elevates it far above that level.

All in all, I give the film **** out of ****. John Toll’s breathtaking vistas are alone worth the ticket price.

DECEMBER 5TH”

And Ruffalo Replacing Kilmer in Collateral
Mark Ruffalo (In the Cut) is in talks to replace Val Kilmer in Michael Mann’s Collateral opposite Tom Cruise for DreamWorks Pictures.

The project, written by Stuart Beattie, stars Cruise as a contract killer who forces a taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) to chauffeur him around on a series of hits.

Ruffalo would play a detective on the heels of Cruise’s character. Jada Pinkett Smith, Dennis Farina and Irma Hall round out the cast.

BTW, Collateral starts shooting today in LA

Cruise, Hurley And Grant Offer Their Time

Posted by Annie on
October 13th, 2003
  • Actors Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant are each offering fans a day in their company to raise funds for comedian pal Denis Leary’s firefighter fund.

    The high-profile celebrities are contributing their time in exchange for cash for the funnyman’s Denis Leary Firefighters’ Foundation benefit on October 27th at New York’s Hudson Hotel.

    An evening with Cruise at the premiere of his upcoming film The Last Samurai will be auctioned off, as well as tea in London with Bedazzled beauty Hurley and a trip to a Scottish castle to play golf with About a Boy star Grant.
    Source: TeenHollywood.com

    Can I go please? 😉

  • TLS to be honored

    Posted by Annie on
    October 11th, 2003

    .Taranaki honors The Last Samurai

    The Last Samurai has been recognised with two special Taranaki business awards.

    Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and his production company partner, Paula Wagner, are to be given the New Plymouth District Council Mayoral Award, while the movie’s location scout, Charlie Harrington, and production designer, Lily Kilvert, are to be presented the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Discovery Award.

    The awards were announced at the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Awards on Friday night.

    While no one from The Last Samurai was at the awards, a video-taped thank you speech by Mr Harrington and Ms Kilvert – who were in New York at the time – was played at the ceremony.

    The tape nearly did not make it to the ceremony, arriving just a few minutes before it began, because New Plymouth Airport had been shut because of fog.

    In the interview, Mr Harrington and Ms Kilvert thanked Taranaki for its help and hospitality during the filming earlier this year and said how much they enjoyed their time in the region.

    There was even a hint of further movies for Taranaki, when the pair promised that one day they would return.

    Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chairman John Rae said it was decided to give business awards to The Last Samurai production staff, because they were instrumental in bringing millions of dollars into the region.

    “We wanted to acknowledge them for their input. They will be awarded a commemorative, one-off, specially designed, ornamental plaque,” Mr Rae said.

    The awards would be given to the recipients at either the premiere of The Last Samurai in New Zealand or Los Angeles, he said.

    Roadshow, the distributors of the film, said yesterday no decisions had yet been made on the location of the New Zealand premiere, but it is likely to either be in Auckland or New Plymouth.

    New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent said Cruise-Wagner Productions was a very deserving candidate for the Mayoral Award.

    “If you want to look at a company that made a huge impact in Taranaki, it would be Cruise-Wagner Productions. It was the summer of the Samurai,” Mr Tennent said

    —-

    You can look back through the archieves to find all the articles, interviews and other stuff of Tom in Taranaki.

    TLS article

    Posted by Annie on
    October 9th, 2003

    Way of the samurai

    ‘A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.” In the months to come, cinema will be offering plenty of cryptic oriental wisdom like this. And it will come amid scenes of elegant dismemberment and improbable sprays of blood. Because, in the realm of action movies, samurai is all the rage.

    Think of Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu in Quentin Tarantino’s samurai tribute Kill Bill, the first volume of which opens this week. In a few months, we’ll also be able to see Tom Cruise learn the way of the eastern warrior in his epic The Last Samurai, and Japanese tough guy Takeshi Kitano swapping guns for swords in his award-winning Zatoichi.

    But there’s more than weaponry behind the samurai vogue. There is the samurai code of honour, bushido – “the way of the warrior”. The west, and its movies, have always had a bizarre fascination with bushido. Based on Zen and Confucian wisdom, its seven principles – courage, honesty, courtesy, honour, compassion, loyalty and complete sincerity – are almost the opposite of everything Hollywood stands for. Perhaps that’s why it appeals to elite players like Cruise, who seems to be on a personal quest to transcend his movie-star status. “Bushido is really the reason I wanted to make this film,” Cruise says of The Last Samurai. “I strongly identify with those values of honour, loyalty and passion. It’s a very powerful code; those are wonderful things to aspire to in life.”

    The Last Samurai is being talked of as Cruise’s Gladiator. It is set in 1870s Japan, when the samurai’s sword-based supremacy was being undermined by firearms, and its story is tailor-made for the star. Cruise’s character is a disaffected American soldier brought over by the emperor to train the Japanese army in western warfare; instead he regains his purpose through his adoption by the samurai. Cruise trained for the part with samurai-like rigour: eight months learning swordfighting, hand-to-hand combat, horse riding and the Japanese language, and no doubt thumbing through samurai text Hagakure in his trailer.

    Read the whole article here

    Collateral news

    Posted by Annie on
    October 4th, 2003

    Interview with the screenwriter of Collateral

    A case in point is DreamWorks and Paramount’s thriller “Collateral,” directed by Michael Mann and starring Tom Cruise which goes into production in early October after many years of twists and turns. Produced by Julie Richardson, its screenplay is by Stuart Beattie and Frank Darabont.

    ‘Collateral’ was actually the first idea I ever had for a film,” Beattie explained. “I was riding in the back of a cab from the airport in Sydney. I must have been 17 or 18. And I just started chatting with this cabbie. And by the time he dropped me home, we were just talking like best mates. I had one of those weird sicko thoughts like, ‘I could be some homicidal maniac and you don’t know. You’ve got your back to me. You’re talking to me like we’re friends (but) I could be anyone.’ It just occurred to me that cabs are a very unique place in our world where two total strangers get into very close confines with each other and trust each other implicitly. And the driver’s got his back to you. It just seemed ripe for tension and (felt like there was) a great movie in there. That’s really where it came from.”

    Even when what evolved into “Collateral” found a home at DreamWorks, there still wasn’t what you could call clear sailing.

    “I ended up doing six or seven months of work on it for them,” Beattie noted. “Then, basically that’s it. It’s around on a shelf. Frank did a draft. He did a polish on it that he always wanted to do. I came back on and did another polish, you know, of his polish. It just kind of sat there. It basically became a great writing sample for me. It went all around town and people really responded to it. So I started getting a lot of work off that script. For those three years it was just basically getting me work everywhere. It was one of those scripts where people would just pass it on to each other and say, ‘Hey, you should read this.’ It wasn’t just my agent saying, ‘Read this’ for a job or something.’ It really took on a life of its own.”

    Russell Crowe also gave the project a boost when he attached himself to it for about six months, briefly attracting Mann in the process.

    “And then Russell bowed out, I think, because it just was taking too long. Michael came back on again. It was pretty much after Russell bowed out that Tom (came aboard). I think it was probably a call from Michael to Tom saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got this thing. Look, we’ve always wanted to work together’ and all that kind of stuff. It’s really when you get such a classy director on like that that things really start to move.”

    Cruise has expressed interested at times in playing a villain and he clearly got his wish granted with “Collateral.”

    “Yeah, he’s certainly a villain,” Beattie said. “You know, he’s the kind of guy you’d like to have around for dinner if it wasn’t for the fact that he killed people for a living. He’s a nice guy in (that) he’s outgoing and personable. He’s humorous and everything, but unfortunately he kills you. That’s the problem. If you meet him, you’re probably dead. But he’s got a very businesslike approach to life — (with) six billion people on the planet, what’s the difference if you lose one or two people?”

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