Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nikkatsu Action month begins!

Back from a 10-day work trip to Tokyo, which went well. More details to come, but the work encompassed an audio commentary with director Sabu for one of his earlier works, another commentary with George Iida for his debut feature, an interview with an f/x artist for that film who now designs some pretty awesome toys, and a video interview with the widow of Kihachi Okamoto about his second-to-last film. More interviews and commentaries to come, later this year.

But in more immediate news...Nikkatsu Action month has begun. This Friday sees the screening of Glass Johnny: Looks Like a Beast at Japan Society in New York, and Saturday holds two screenings: The Velvet Hustler at the Philadelphia Film Festival (the Bridge Theater at 7:30 pm, for those of you who live there), and A Colt is My Passport at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago. And next weekend, a six-film series begins in San Francisco. I'm actually amazed at how many 1960s Nikkatsu Action screenings will be held across the US this month - 23 altogether, with some happening three per day! May sees another 13 or so screenings, and more to come later in the year. Hopefully the series will be coming to a city near you and that we'll see you at one of the shows.

Speaking of Nikkatsu, I have some terrific news from Tokyo, as well. Nikkatsu has recently partnered with an outfit called Rock Chipper Records to begin releasing compliations of some of their most obscure Nikkatsu Action soundtrack selections in CDs built around common themes. Out now are three in a "Star Series," with individual discs devoted to popular actors Akira Kobayashi, Keiichiro Akagi, and Jo Shishido.

But instead of being comprised mostly of the pop songs that were integral to the genre, these CDs concentrate more on instrumental themes and title songs from the films. Included on the Shishido disc, for instance, are two tracks from
Glass Johnny and - most exciting for me - the amazing, Italian western-inspired theme tune from A Colt is My Passport. (For the fans, also included are some of Jo's rare trips to the microphone, including the oft-compiled "Rokudenashi" from Rokudenashi kagyo and the much harder-to-find Mexico mushuku title theme song. Jo's understandably humble about his singing ability, but I think he does just fine.)

The disc is worth its 3000 yen price for these rare track alone, in my estimation, but Rock Chipper ups the ante by packaging each disc in a sturdy cardboard folding case, with cool poster artwork on the gatefold. Full liner notes (in Japanese, of course) are included, with lyrics listed for the vocal tracks. Also included are three small postcards, one featuring a film poster and the other featuring film stills or glamor shots.

Future discs are also listed on an outside flap, with April bringing a "Director's Series" comprised of collections of tracks from the films of Ko Nakahira, Toshiya Fujita and (hooray) Seijun Suzuki. In May, the label will release a "Genre Series" of tracks from Youth (seishun) films, comedies, and...drumroll, Action films. Can't wait to see what's on that last one.


Anonymous logboy said...

very nice to hear about these nikkatsu soundtracks.

i, personally, use cdjapan for CDs, and i've found you can search the whole series, which always begins thus :

Nikkatsu Eiga Ongakushu

...there's the shishido one, as far i'm concerned, and the upcoming suzuki seijun one too, due april 23rd.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Thunderbolt Buddha said...

Thanks a lot for these news !

4:37 AM  
Anonymous logboy said...

i've the shishido one now... nice glossy gatefold sleeve, card's not too thin... image that you see when you open it is a collection of posters, nicely spaced out... disc is kept in a nice little sleeve that pops out from the right hand side, and there's a booklet in the slot on the left.

have ordered the suzuki seijun one.

see there's a further three set for release next month, i think one relates specifically to action movies, so that might also prove to be of interest.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous logboy said...

i can see three for 5/21 : seishun hen, comedy hen, and action hen.

the second range of three are out today.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Graham Barey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Graham Barey said...

Im visiting Japan soon. Does anyone know any good record stores in Tokyo to find original Nikkatsu movie soundtracks on LP? Thanks!

10:17 PM  

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