The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Welcome to Pawnee, Indiana. We are located 90 miles from Indianapolis and we are the state's seventh-largest city. We are a city of kind citizens, green places, and a deep love and respect for the land. For the care and protection of these public outdoor spaces, we turn to the Parks and Recreation Department, headed by the honorable Ronald Ulysses Swanson. In order to ensure that the parks, pools, and public spaces of Pawnee remain in their tip top condition and able to provide good, clean fun for the citizens of Pawnee and their guests, the Parks and Recreation Department asks you to follow the following pertinent rules and regulations. Please and thank you, rest in peace L'il Sebastian.
So, you want to have a baby! Congratulations! Before you continue in your endeavor, please take a moment to acquaint yourself with the following:
10 Rules and Regulations for Choosing a Sperm Donor
1. Maybe you're frustrated in love. Maybe Mr. Right has become Mr. Elusive and dating has become a losing game. Maybe… you're seeking alternatives — like, an alternative family. Who needs a man when you are the best date you've ever had? Dating yourself has been the biggest thrill of your life; it's made you try catfish and pick up new hobbies. Heck, you've even gone skydiving (and you have the blog to prove it)! Sounds like you've made the decision to become a mom without first finding a partner. If this is the case, please see Rule No. 2.
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2. Head to the sperm bank. This is where you will decide on your sperm donor. We recommend you bring a friend for moral support. At the sperm bank, you'll be asked to state your preferences for your sperm donor. Yes, we know you want sperm. Can you be more specific? Oh, you don't have any other known requirements? Well, in that case, take a look at these binders, talk it over with your jumpy blonde friend, and come back when you're more prepared.
3. Picking a sperm donor is kind of like choosing a caterer for a wedding reception. You'll want to weigh your decisions carefully and enlist the opinions of friends with varying tastes. Both the herbivore and the carnivore can provid unique insight into your process! But, ultimately, you've got to go with your gut. If the mini calzones — I mean, a savory pastry delicate dough pocket filled with tomato sauce, cheese, and seasoned meat— really speaks to you, then say yes to the pastry!
NEXT: Document your sperm donor process.
4. Be sure to document your sperm donor selection process. Much like a hipster chronicling a roast that was more of a coy Dutch woman guarding a secret than a hunk of meat, you (and your hypothetical child) will want to savor these memories forever. So take out that iPhone and get Instagramming! If you need assistance with the app, please contact Tom Haverford, resident foodie.
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5. Umm... Going back to No. 3, maybe it's best to stay away from the mini calzones of sperm donors. The mini calzones may be new and fun, and Lord knows they are tasty in the moment, but these attractive morsels will only leave you hurting in the long run. It may be best to seek a donation from someone you know will not send you into toilet bowl-breaking bouts of regret in the following days.
6. Instead, go with the JJ's Diner of donors. Someone who knows your name, your preferences, and sends you home with free waffles. (Hey, Pawnee residents, JJ's now does event catering!)
7. So, you've decided to go with someone you know. But whom? Choose wisely and, in your process, steer clear of Douches (yes, with a capital D). Sometimes, graduates of Northwestern who studied semiotics and the narrative form in the digital age who seem perfect on paper will ultimate make your friend quote Bill Cosby while standing knee-deep in a kiddie pool of Jell-O on local radio. And really, who needs that?
8. And hey, having a baby can be scary! Kind of like hosting your very first public forum on Pawnee Commons. So, as with the latter, fake it 'til you make it. If you're scared, pretend to be someone you look up to. Try walking in the Fleetwood Mac sex pants (the garment, not the band) of your predecessor for inspiration.
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9. And when that doesn't work — because we all know it won't — just be yourself. Go ahead and call the man who recommends creating a topless park a creep, risking 30 citations for excessive rudeness. You are April Ludgate and you get s**t done! I mean, after all, who is having this baby but you and yourself?
10. Finally, take your time in choosing. Go through things systematically with color-coded binders, anatomy cartoons, and your best we're-not-lesbians-we-swear friend. "Let's do this!" Because, ultimately, what's more cuterus than your uterus?
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[Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/NBC]
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At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Korman, whose clients included Tony Curtis, Ethel Merman and Ricardo Montalban, passed away on 30 July (09) in Los Angeles.
He also managed talent including Rod Taylor, Florence Henderson and Ben Gazzara under his company,Tom Korman Management and directed stars' careers through Grey Advertising in his native New York.
He went on to run the Ashley Steiner talent agency, Agency for the Performing Arts and the Artists Group - a company he formed in 1963, where he represented Anthony Perkins, Elliott Gould and Julie Harris.
In the 1970s Korman made his move to Los Angeles and formed Contemporary Korman Artists with Ronald Leif.
Korman was honoured for his charity work with the Project Angel Food Hour Glass award in 2006.
He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Pamela.