Friday, January 19, 2007

Waiting on the Weather in the Japan Times

"No one, perhaps not even Akira Kurosawa's immediate family, knew him better."

In Thursday's Japan Times, Mark Schilling, author of The Yakuza Movie Book, writes a tremendous review of Teruyo Nogami's Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa. Here's an excerpt:

The self-portrait that emerges is of a smart, passionate woman who was in love with film and filmmaking long before she met Kurosawa -- a love that continues to this day. The translation for the book's English edition, by Juliet Winter Carpenter, perfectly captures Nogami's salty personality, and Nogami's photos and 27 drawings of Kurosawa and his world add to what is sure to become a classic memoir, essential for our understanding of one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century.

Schilling also interviews Nogami-san in a related feature titled "In the presence of 'the Emperor'" Again, an excerpt:

What impression did you have of Kurosawa when you first worked with him on "Rashomon?"

Kurosawa had had a big hit with his first film ["Sugata Sanshiro" (1943)], so he was quickly elevated to the top rank. When he arrived [at the Daiei Studio to make "Rashomon"], he was still young -- only 40. He was like a star. He came with all these famous actors from Tokyo, which made him shine even more. He cut a stylish figure -- I was a bit scared of him. But I consider myself lucky. If it hadn't been for Itami-san [Nogami volunteered to care for Itami's teenage son, Juzo, who would later become one of Japan's premier filmmakers, after his widowed mother moved to Tokyo], I wouldn't have been in Kyoto [working at the Daiei Studio]. Kurosawa just happened to come along, and I just happened to be there. It was all a matter of chance. Kurosawa believed in luck; he felt that something would always turn up. In that sense, he had a lot of confidence.