Monday, February 12, 2007


Konichiwa! I am Ken Watanabe, an actor who you may recognize from such films as "Tampopo," "Batman Begins," "The Last Samurai," and the Oscar-nominated "Letters from Iwo Jima." It is great to be having an impact on the films of the United States, a place which has given such inspiration in my life. I love the films of America, from Gary Cooper and Clark Gable all the way up to Billy Wilder, Spike Lee, and Francis Ford Coppola. I attribute my own success in film to those first motion pictures I watched in the Niigata prefecture of my childhood -- the attraction was inescapable, and my destiny writ. I am now here doing what I have always dreamt of, this humble child of a working-class family in Japan.

All of this is prelude to the wonderment I'm filled with -- no wait, perhaps that is not the best word. My English is still very new. I mean to say, bewilderment over the Academy Award nomination of the recent motion picture "Little Miss Sunshine." This, I cannot understand. I have watched this film, as a screener given to me by the Academy, and all I can say is that if this is what makes an Oscar-worthy picture in the minds of voters perhaps they should wait for the sequel to "Dude, Where's My Car?" At least that holds up under the scrutiny of repeat viewings. I have started watching many American television programs ever since I purchased a home for myself in California, and while I enjoy thirty minutes of slapstick and broad humor as rendered by Charlie Sheen, I have no wish to see such things stretched into a feature-length format. Where is the human drama? Here, there is only melodrama. Where is the character? I see only caricature. To think, the film "Dreamgirls" would most likely have been nominated otherwise. I have developed an appreciation for curvy black women since moving to Los Angeles, especially those who have failed to compete at the highest levels of your televised talent contests.

Perhaps my next film project will pair me with that American film favorite Madea, another voluminous black woman who stirs my blood. This might also have a fair chance of Oscar success, provided a great deal of the picture features she and myself pushing a yellow automobile in hopes of starting the engine.