Shinzanmono is a Japanese TV Series that just ended its run last Sunday night, June 20th. Broadcast on Japan’s TBS Network, this show was definitely prime time as it aired on Sunday nights at 9:00 PM. The 10 episodes of the series can most simply be described as a detective story. The crime was a murder, and it took place in the Ningyo-cho neigborhood of Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Of course the series was shot in the very neighborhood being portrayed.

I think shinzanmono means something along the lines of ‘new neighborhood people or person’, which is what Detective Kaga Kyoichiro is in Ningyo-cho. Kaga was just transferred to the Nihonbashi precinct, is placed in charge of the case. With virtually all of the residents of the neighborhood’s main shopping street, harboring one secret or another, they will all emerge as suspects, Detective Kaga must use his keen sense of deductive reasoning to uncover the truth about these people as well as solve the case..

Much of that is from the synopsis provided on the website. But it really doesn’t do the series justice. Calling it a detective show is truly an over-simplification. Unlike American detective shows where the detective solves a new crime each week, this series focuses on just the one case. We, much like Detective Kaga, are in the dark. Though we witnessed the murder in the opening episode, and have seen snippets of it, in flashbacks, in every episode that followed, we still have no idea. This is a literal, “Who done it?”

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Main aurr Mrs. Khanna

Most of what I’ve read about Main aurr Mrs. Khanna, a Hindi/Bollywood movie from last fall, implies that gossamer wings have more substance than the script for this film. Anyway, since I love the leading lady, I put this one into my Netflix queue.

Starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, who are two of the biggest stars in the Bollywood pantheon, the story is indeed thin. Kareena, who looks great in this film, plays Raina. We meet her in the orphanage where she grew up. In fact, she’s so poor that she doesn’t even have a last name.

Salman Khan is Samir Khanna. He looks puffy, blockier, and older. He doesn’t look at all like the glamorous leading man who I expected. Even his hair is longer, and that isn’t a plus. Well, he takes a shine to the lovely Raina, and who wouldn’t?

Faster than you can say, “I do…”, it is a few years later. They’re married, and are living in a beautiful home in Melbourne, Australia. Samir’s career had rocketed upward, and now he’s lost everything. They must give up their home and move to Singapore, where he will make a new start. Yeah – that fast.

Kareena Kapoor as Raina

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Knight and Day

Imagine the screenwriter’s or his agent’s sales pitch to some exec at a studio:

You know Bourne? Well this guy is Bourne without … the amnesia. But with a sense of humor. You known Bond? You know Mission Impossible? Well this is all of those and then some. And Tom Cruise won’t be able to resist this script…

Well he or she was right. Very right. Screenwriter Patrick O’Neill sold his screenplay. And 20th Century Fox, a News Company, and Regency Pictures got a return on their investment from me on the day the picture opened, hours ago, today.

Cruise is Roy Miller, not the Roy Miller played by Matt Damon (Bourne) in Green Zone; just another Roy Miller who happens to be one of those super spy/agents (pick one).

... I'm that guy....

Cameron Diaz plays June Havens, a regular girl with the interest, knowledge, and skills necessary in restoring heavy metal cars. She’s plenty cute, with a winning smile, and you’ll have no trouble liking her.

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The Karate Kid

As I recall, I didn’t see the original Karate Kid (1984) in the theaters when it came out. I think I probably decided to watch it only after watching Jean-Claude Van Damm inĀ Bloodsport (1988) on a VHS tape in the early 90’s. So I missed out on popular movie franchise when it was really popular.

But if you live long enough, what goes around comes around. And here we are in June of 2010, a mere 26 years later, and The Karate Kid has just opened. Having been to Beijing, China, the film interested me on that level.

I was also a fan of Jackie Chan, and I wanted to see if super-star Will Smith’s kid Jaden, had inherited his Dad’s acting chops.

I am pleased to report that The Karate Kid pleased me on all of the above levels of criteria – China, Chan, and the precocious Jaden Smith.

This film is somewhere between a remake and a brand new film. Though the title is the same, there’s no karate in this film. Instead, it is all about kung fu. It’s not about a white kid who relocates from NJ to California. This is a black kid and his Mom has taken a job in China. And finally the other major difference is that the Pat Morita role – that of a Japanese who teaches the kid karate, has been updated to a Chinese guy who teaches the kid kung fu.

Of course none of this is too far removed from Yoda teaching Luke Skywalker those Star Wars lessons. Only we don’t have a Darth Vader. Instead we have a school bully who is after Jaden Smith whose character is called Dre.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I guess I made the decision after seeing the trailer. Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time was definitely on my ‘must-see’ list. But when the movie opened last Friday, I didn’t rush out to the local cineplex. I waited five days and saw the film on Tuesday, the 1st of June.

The pedigree was right – Disney, Bruckheimer plus Mike Newell in the Director’s Chair. Plenty of gee-whiz CGI effects. And after the somberness of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, I was in the mood for a rollicking adventure across the Persian sands, or should I say the Moroccan deserts.

The film started off well enough with the familiar chase across the rooftops. We see this so often and yet it is always satisfying. But in all honesty, I thought that the rooftop chase in Tangiers, Morocco, in The Bourne Ultimatun was far more exciting, and the opening chase in the first Daniel Craig Bond film, Casino Royale – was done much better.

Once the chase concluded, we quickly advance to a time, a dozen years later when the boy who was Dastan in the opening chase has now grown into Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Prince Dastan. I’d seen Jake in Rendition and Jarhead, so I was familiar with him.

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