One of the sites I look at every day is boingboing. Today boingboing has a link to this artist Lori Nix who creates miniature worlds and photographs them. She is amazing! If you check out her website, you can see a lot of her work, like this:
Yesterday I watched and enjoyed this movie Morituri, starring Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner. It's a WWII espionage drama, somewhat similar to John Frankenheimer's The Train. (They both anticipate Mission: Impossible in some ways.)
Brando plays a German expatriate living a pleasantly hedonistic life in India, oblivious to the war. British intelligence blackmails him into impersonating an SS officer and boarding a German ship to make sure it gets caught in an Allied ambush so they can seize its valuable cargo of rubber (needed for tires and other things).
Brando is the one for the job since his skills as an engineer will be needed to disarm the various bombs that have been planted throughout the ship so that, in the event of such an ambush, the precious materials are not taken by the enemy.
Yul Brynner is the captain. It's exciting to see these two very different actors working together. As usual, Brando's performance is one to be savored for all of its bits of business. However, I couldn't help thinking that he's out of proportion to the movie and the rest of the cast. Whenever he speaks, Morituri becomes the Marlon Brando Show. He's a lot of fun to watch — and impressive, too — but he overwhelms and steals every scene.
The photography is very good, with some very interesting and imaginative camera moves. Jerry Goldsmith's score is also great, with a haunting main theme written for zither, and some excellent cues written for the unusual combination of wood blocks, harpsichord and electric bass.
I clicked my way to Amazon Japan to order biographies of Masaru Sato and Akira Ifukube and couldn't resist ordering several other books, some about other Japanese film music composers, some about Nikkatsu Studio.
Of course, I can't read any of these, but I could painstakingly work my way through them with the aid of a dictionary and a book that explains the rudiments of Japanese grammar. Despite my having studied Japanese at the Japan Society for several years and knowing over 700 kanji, I still can't decipher even the titles of these books, let alone the text inside.
This limitation explains why I didn't know what this CD was, other than a "people who bought those books also bought this, or so we claim" item. I didn't need more than the cover photo to decide to buy it, though I was able to tell that it was the soundtrack to something called Captain Ultra.
Sometimes CDs like this contain music that I'm not into, lots of marches and stiff anthems. The music on this CD is by Isao Tomita, though, who wrote some music I really like, such as the score to Prophecies of Nostradamus.
Most of the Captain Ultra music is very good, with excellent use of electric guitar, analog synthesizers and tape delay. Some of it is acoustic and more conventional, occasionally reminiscent of some of Ifukube's work. There is a bit of march and anthem, but it's kept to a minimum.
I also broke down and bought My Favorite Ennio Morricone Music Presented by Junichiro Koizumi. I couldn't resist a compilation of Morricone film music cues put together by the prime minister of Japan (as Koizumi was when the CD came out). I'd like to see some other world leaders follow his example.