Out of the Darkness — Into an Arts Oasis

Hugh Jackman as the new Astaire? OK by us. When one spends as much time working as I do — and, sadly, that’s about all I have time to do these days (still looking for something humane, creative, meaningful, and appropriate to do; my present humiliating, hateful, heartbreaking, hellish endeavor in the immoral, money-grubbing, screw-the-worker corporate world is destroying my family while killing my body and spirit — PLEASE, if anyone has suggestions or ideas or anything hopeful, let me know) — one NEEDS a release. My oasis is keeping up with the doings of gifted artists I happen to find ridiculously attractive. Sue me.

This takes me to one of my favorite ports in the storm, the amazing Australian actor Hugh Jackman. Fresh from his Broadway triumph in last year’s The Boy from Oz, the gorgeous triple-threat is set to take his song-and-dance abilities to the big screen. Jackman has inked a deal with Disney to produce and star in as many as three movie musicals. Most terrific news! In addition, Hugh, through his new production company, will help produce the third X-Men film, which will bring the fine, feral Wolverine back to the big screen. And he’s filming The Fountain in Montreal. As if I needed more motivation to head to the Great White North…

Kaga as himself More reason to sing and dance in ’05: Multitalented and muy bonito Japanese actor Kaga Takeshi (鹿賀丈史さん) will be busy this year. He’s returning to the stage, playing West German Chancellor Willy Brandt in the Tokyo production of the sure-to-be-hot play Democracy (a Broadway version is on the boards at the Brooks Atkinson in NYC). (The first link leads to a page written in Japanese, but the search engine Excite allows you to see the page translated into English at this page. It is way cool.)

Kaga as Ota Nobunaga; the actor is in costume as the 16th-century warrior, but fielding press questions -- hence the microphone not invented in 1549 And in June, Japanese cinephiles will get to enjoy the erstwhile “Iron Chef” Chairman as well — Takefumi is one of the stars of Sengoku Jieitai 1549 (Civil Wars Self Defense Forces 1549), an anti-war film (a remake of the 1979 flick) that boasts, well, lots of action-war scenes. Kaga-san takes on two roles, present-day scientist Matoba Tsuyoshi and old-school warrior Ota Nobunaga, and contrasts how people of different eras dealt with the idea and the reality of war and what its fallout means to future generations. Speaking with the Japanese press about the film last September, Kaga said (this is translated, kids; did my best with it): “Because it is revisiting a film made a long time ago, I am enjoying the work of paying tribute to the Kakugawa movie. … Warring States became a stage and showed how the Japanese changed over hundreds of years. It shows the warring Heisei era, and, then, it shows you how a more modern man named Matoba, whom I perform, copes with the realities of war. … Moreover, this movie is a story of man who has imagined war and man who has gripped the chance to make war. The scale of the movie is large, and I want to perform it so that — and this is no lie — so war will not end my existence.” Oooh, Kaga’s an anti-war-nick. (Sigh…) Wish I could see it. Bring the film to America, dammit!

swank.jpg We’re also looking forward to seeing the amazing Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, the story of a woman who makes her mark in the male-dominated field of boxing. The film’s violence doesn’t attract, but watching the Academy Award-winning Swank perform is always a privilege. Her being easy on the eyes… well, I consider that — she does spend much of the film in a tank top, after all — a fringe benefit. (I am very naughty, yes.) Word has it that Oscar buzz is surrounding Baby already. Let’s hope the film lives up to the hype; I suspect the lovely Swank will.

Any news on what the ethereal Claire Danes will be doing would be appreciated — unless it has to do with Billy Crudup or homewrecking. I don’t need to hear about that unfortunate bit of business. But forget this and other sources of darkness, if only for a bit. Bask in the brightness of wonderful artistic thrills to come instead.

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