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776: Streep talk
775: World of difference
774: Shocks and Bonds
773: Viva La Revolución
772: Jacqui Bayne
768: Beyond the universe
767: Yasuhito Endo
766: Aroon Mahtani
765: Dr. Hidemi Akai
764: Badr Hari
763: Mizuki Kubodera
761: Patrick W. Galbraith
760: Jean-Pierre Felix
759: Philippe Grau
758: Emi Kashiwara & Elekiteru
757: Aura Virginia Chirculescu
756: Aaron Davis
755: Happy days
754: Bryan Au
753: Martin van der Linden
752: Qinggelete
751: Chuck Johnson
750: Mike Applegate (aka Magic Mike)
749: Yukie Kito
748: Steve Kaufmann
746: Samira Zarghami
745: Raising the Bar
744: Pierre-Gilles Delorme
743: David F. Hoenigman
742: Miwa Gardner
741: Kevin Cooney
740: Kyle Cleveland
739: JJ
738: Bruce Stronach
737: Yoichiro Dennis Ide
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735: Hiroki Suehara
734: Rise and Shrine
733: Patrik Washburn
732: Michael Bumgardner
731: Patricia Bader-Johnston
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729: Hiroshi Fujimaki
728: Misha Janette
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725: Hokuto Konishi
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722: Angela Jeffs
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700: Jah-Light Sound System
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697: Eric Bragg
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693: Kenneth Pechter
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691: Antonio Inoki
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689: Richard Bysouth
688: Eric Bjorndahl
687: Andrew Shuttleworth
686: Sayuri Suzuki
685: Yurie Hatanaka
684: Miogi Takii
683: Thierry Cohen
682: Ahmed M. Elmardi
681: Aya Kitagawa
680: Suzanne Ng and Yoriko Soma
679: Ricco DeBlank
677: Takenari Shibata
676: Kirk R. Patterson
675: Satoko Yahata
674: Flavia Nishimura
673: Ryo Shoji
672: Chip Eckton
671: Yuko Ito
670: Marja Kullberg
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668: Slavomir Stanislaw Kowalewski
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664: Life force
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646: No heels, no life
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598: Heart strings
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596: Subtitle subtleties
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594: Mother’s day
593: The clone ranger
592: A career kicks off
591: Woman of substance
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588: Fun in the sun
587: New life for an old hero
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585: Knockout punch
584: Patrick’s day
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580: Gentle as a beast
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576: Bright spark
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574: A star is reborn
573: In search of geisha
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571: In the Nic of time
570: Holding a grudge
569: Bourne again
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567: Alexander and friends
566: Oceans apart
565: A night at the opera
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552: Dimension K
551: Tokyo Game Show
550: US Embassy
549: I, Robot Premiere
548: Mauve
547: Xterra Japan
546: Earth Celebration
545: Idée R-bar
544: Laforet Museum
543: Hara Museum
542: Fuji Rock Festival’04
541: Bunkamura Museum of Art

star struck

Kingdom come
Director Ridley Scott, Orlando Bloom and Eva Green examine the Crusades in their new epic
By Chris Betros

Chris Betros

If there’s one Western filmmaker who should feel at home in Muslim cultures by now, it would be Ridley Scott. His latest epic, Kingdom of Heaven, which deals with the Crusades, was filmed mainly in Morocco. It’s the third film he has shot in a Muslim country in five years, the first two being Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.

Kingdom centers on Balian (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith who has lost his family. The religious wars raging in the Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into the conflict. Amid the intrigues of medieval Jerusalem, Balian grows into a leader who must defend the city against staggering odds. Co-starring Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Eva Green and Edward Norton, Kingdom comes at a sensitive time, given the geopolitical tensions in the world today.

“I think the balance of the film is good,” said Scott. “All the Muslim roles were played by Muslim actors. Saladin is played by Syrian Ghassan Massoud, a renowned Muslim scholar. We discussed things every day and he was a great guiding influence.” Having filmed Gladiator in Morocco, Scott was no stranger to the kingdom. “The people were wonderful to work with. I have been asked, ‘Weren’t you threatened?’ Absolutely not. That’s the tabloid press in Europe spreading stories and they are the worst. We had a multinational cast and crew of Germans, Italians, French, British, Moroccans and many more, sometimes up to 2,000 a day, all working to make a bloody good movie.”

Kingdom marks Bloom’s second collaboration with Scott after Black Hawk Down (in which Scott heaved him out of a helicopter). In the past year, the 28-year-old British actor has shot up in the popularity stakes in Japan where he is referred to as “Orly.” Bloom seems to be making a career out of appearing in historical and fantasy epics (Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and Troy, for example). “I studied classical texts at drama school for three years. Maybe that has influenced my decisions,” he said.

A predominant theme in Kingdom of Heaven is code of honor. Scott likens the code of the European knights to the samurai code. “These figures carry the attributes of a hero,” he explained, “and one of the most important is that the character holds to his own degree of fairness, faithfulness and chivalry.” Bloom said the message he got from the film was “to walk the Earth and make the world a better place than when you found it.”

So how will Kingdom fare in the Muslim world? “Religion is just a word,” Scott said. “It has been abused by various factions of every order. Why don’t people let their instinct for goodness lead for a change?”

the scene

Thirst Japan Final
Female K-Switch wins Japan heat of Heineken’s global DJ challenge

From top: DJ K-Switch will advance to Thirst’s Asian final in Bangkok on May 28; club kid Nick Makahatadze; world-famous DJ Roger Sanchez performed at the Japan final, which was held at Ageha; Clubberia.com’s Hiroshi Naka (c) and Higher-Frequency.com’s Kei Tajima (r)
Photos by Mark Oxley www.higher-frequency.com




Randy McGraw
From the old media to the new

It’s a long way from the small steel-working Pittsburgh suburb of Braddock to Tokyo, but Randy McGraw is right at home as vice president of business development at ImaHima, a new media company focused on mobile and online products, and president of the Penn (University of Pennsylvania)Club of Japan.

What first brought you to Japan?
DirecTV sent me in 1999 to help fix the Japan venture’s sales and marketing functions.

What led you to ImaHima?
It’s really a question of media, so-called old media and new media. Neither side really understands the other, but the growing entrepreneurial business opportunities are in the overlapping areas between them.

Tell us about the Japan Penn alumni.
It’s a highly active, multicultural and multigenerational group united by the common thread of US academic experience. There are over 2,000 graduates who have been active in some way over the past four years that I have been involved. We have seen a few marriages of people who met through the Penn Club, lots of successful job opportunities and placements. We also participate in fundraising for charities.

How do you relax?
Exercising at Golds Gym and writing music or playing one of my six guitars.

What is the weirdest thing you have done since you have been in Japan?
Stripping down to a loincloth, placing an enormous wooden phallus on my back, and happily toting it around a small town as part of an annual fertility festival. CB

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