Real Western > Rodeo > Japanese Rodeo Cowboys > Jin'ichiro Shibahara

Chasing The Dream

Written by Jin'ichiro Shibahara

December 14, 2007 - A Cowboy’s Day Off

After riding in two events and driving all the way back to Salt Lake City, I must admit I was worn out for a couple of days.  It was around that time that jet-lag hit me, and with trouble sleeping at night, I found my self falling a sleep during the day.  I managed to force my self out of the house and back into a training regimen, which seemed to get me back into rhythm.

I’m not scheduled to ride for a while, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything; I hit the gym at least three times a week and am already working up to next year’s season.

In between my training schedule, I did manage to find time to take in some movies (I happen to be a pretty big movie fan, actually).  I hadn’t seen a film the entire time I was in Japan.  More to the point, I couldn’t see myself spending nearly $20 to see a movie (the average price for a movie in Japan); that’s just outrageous.  Maybe on one of their “special” days when they only charge $10 or so I may go see one, but that’s about it.  Any how, one of the reasons I like Salt Lake is the “movies.”  They have three “dollar theaters” here, and just as the name suggests, they are theaters where you can see a movie for just $1.  A dollar!!  These dollar theaters are a big reason I stopped going to movies in Japan.  And if you drive to Park City, a little under an hour’s drive from Salt Lake, this is where they hold the famous “Sun Dance Film Festival” every year (but of course, I am always on the road during the festival, so I’ve never actually been to it.  Though, someday I defiantly would like to).  That environment where movies are the greatest form of entertainment and one might take in a movie everyday, an environment long lost in Japan, is still alive here.  With the advent of DVDs and cable TV, the idea of “going to” the movies was on a sharp decline at one time, but some theaters figured it was better to reduce the price than to close, giving birth to the dollar theaters.  As you can imagine, these are not the great movie complexes of late, so the facilities are worn and amenities few, and the movies they play are about three months old, but a screen is a screen and a few of these theaters even have Dolby digital sound.  So, there are not a few movie fans like me who wait anxiously for the new films to “come later” to these dollar theaters.

It was an afternoon when I went to the theater, but there were a wide range of people there from old couples to families, young couples and even loners like me.  But, enough about the theater and on to what film I saw.

The first of two I saw that day was “The Bourne Ultimatum.”  While this is the concluding part three of the Bourne series, it was so good I am sure I am not the only one wishing there will be a fourth.  But I guess now that all the secrets have been told, there’s not much chance of that.  It was a great series though.  The intensity never let-up throughout the entire series, and all of the major parts were played by the same actors.

The second film was more of a Real Western style film – the recent remake of the 1957 film of the same name, “3:10 to Yuma.”  I’m not sure if it will be released in Japan, but it was defiantly a true-blue, epitome of a Western.  I highly recommend it.  The movie features Russell Crow and Christian Bale, and while Russell Crow is well known in Japan, Bale may not be.  For those who are not sure of who he is, he played the lead in “Batman Begins” and did the voice of Howl in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, “Howl’s Moving Castle.”  But, bar far, the best of the film was “Charlie Prince” played by Ben Foster.  Almost bigger-than-life, and extremely well played.  The skill of the director played no small part in making this a great film as well; directed by James Mangold, who also directed “Walk the Line” an autobiographical film of country singer Johnny Cash, and also the thrilling drama of dirty cops in New Jersey, “Cop Land” (another great film in it’s own right).  As with the other films he has directed, one could almost feel the testosterone oozing from the screen.  True to history, the armored stagecoach is marked as belonging to the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and the railroad construction is shown to be done by Chinese immigrants under white supervisors.  The film also gives a fairly accurate portrayal of life on a cattle ranch during that period as well.  Most of the filming was done in New Mexico, so many of the scenes have that familiar red-brown dirt look to it.  Most of the filming was done in the winter, and while it may have been New Mexico it does get cold there; a fact that can be seen from the white plumes emitting from the actors as they speak.  Most filming was done on location with very little CGI.  Italian Marco Beltrami gave the film an old “Spaghetti Western” feel with the score being comprised of music reminiscent of the old Clint Eastwood films; and it fits perfectly.  I didn’t realize it until I saw the credits, but Peter Fonda is in the film as well.  It was, of course, all in English so I didn’t understand it all, but it was still a fantastic movie.  I am not a big fan of the Western genre, but this is a movie worth watching; especially if you are a fan of the Western genre.

Hollywood seems to make a few Westerns a year, and it seems the “main” Hollywood Western of the year still hasn’t come to the dollar theater yet, and therefore I have not seen yet (though it was released in the U.S. in September) which is “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”  Since this one features Brad Pitt it has already been scheduled for release in Japan, opening on the 12th of January.  Most of the filming was done in Alberta, Canada, near Calgary; the same area used for filming “Broken Trail.”  Even though I called it the “main” Hollywood Western of the year, I may appear to be getting in bed with Japanese distributing agencies who decide to release a film in Japan simply because it stars Brad Pitt, so I will refrain from commenting further until I’ve seen the film.

See you next time.

Jin’ichiro Shibahara

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