Tokyo, Sep 28 (AP/UNB) — His film roles range from police officer to serial killer, dashing characters to self-destructive losers, a samurai warrior to an ordinary "salaryman," as Japanese office workers are called. But through all his work in Japan and Hollywood, Koji Yakusho has found what he must do as an actor remains surprisingly the same.
"It's lonely," he said recently. "You're before a camera, and you have to do something, and you can't make mistakes.
"You can't ever totally become a character, but you must get as close to that person as possible, and that moment you feel you are him — you make sure you don't lose that moment."
Yakusho, who is being honored at the Tokyo International Film Festival next month, has worked with the legends of Japanese film and starred in Shohei Imamura's "The Eel," which won the 1997 Palme d'Or at Cannes. He also appeared in "Babel" and "Memoirs of a Geisha."
"Koji Yakusho is Japan's leading international actor, demonstrating unparalleled versatility in wide-ranging roles across every genre," said the festival's program adviser Kohei Ando on why Yakusho was being honored at the festival.
"He has indelibly played dozens of characters, and imbued them with humanism."
Ando pointed as an example to one of Yakusho's well-known roles, as a salaryman who becomes obsessed with ballroom dancing in "Shall We Dance?" directed by Masayuki Suo. It became a 2004 Hollywood remake, starring Richard Gere.
He learned to dance for his role in the heart-warming film.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press at Toho Studios in Tokyo, Yakusho said with a laugh it's true his professional surname was picked years ago by his mentor, Tatsuya Nakadai. He was working at a "yakusho," or local government office, when he joined a theater group Nakadai ran.
Nakadai had hoped the civil servant-turned-actor would go on to play many roles. "Yaku" means role; the first character in Koji, his real name, has the meaning for "wide."
Yakusho, 62, is being honored at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival, which opens Oct. 25 and runs through Nov. 3.
"We are all aware of the perspective of extremely regular people. That's something we are always thinking about and trying to observe," said Yakusho, noting he is one movie star with the regular-person experience of catching a rush-hour commuter train.
The hardest roles to play are the noble, honorable characters, he said, like the samurai in his next movie, whose tentative English title is "Touge: The Last Samurai," set for release in 2020.
The work requires memorizing long, complex lines because of the way samurai talk, he added.
Yakusho has directed one film, "Toad's Oil," a pensive story about coping with a young man's death. He plays the lead, the father of the man. He wants to direct more. He promised to be gentle with his actors so they feel free and natural, since he knows what it's like to be on the receiving end.
"I want to create a film that's like those images in my head," he said of the work he wants to direct, stressing it's about the ideas, while declining to go into specifics.
"That kind of special film," he said.
Yakusho watches his films only once. Each time, it's a bit embarrassing, and being objective may not be possible "for a lifetime," he said.
Yakusho seems to excel at evoking that strange mix of good and evil.
In one of his latest films, "The Third Murder," Yakusho plays a mysterious killer. The 2017 film was directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose "Shoplifters" won the Palme d'Or this year. In another recent film, "The Blood of Wolves," he plays a wild-spirited police officer, who starts to resemble the criminals he is trying to arrest.
The protagonist in "The Eel" murders his wife when he catches her having an affair. After serving time as a model convict, he starts a barbershop. An eel, which he keeps in a tank, is his only friend at the start. But he gradually begins to open up and form relationships with people around him.
Like many of Yakusho's movies, it's a bleak story of a normal life that goes awry, the daily challenge of trying to live in search for meaning amid betrayal, loneliness and abuse.
"The complexity of Koji Yakusho's acting is illustrated by his unique interpretation of flawed but intriguing humanity," says Maggie Lee, film critic specializing in Asian cinema at entertainment magazine Variety.
"He is a master at portraying characters who retain a dignified core."
Dhaka, Sep 27 (UNB) - A 10-day solo art exhibition of artist Proshanta Karmakar Buddha will begin at Gallery Cosmos, New DOHS, Mohakhali in the city on Friday.
French Ambassador to Bangladesh Marie- Annick Bourdin will attend the inaugural ceremony of the exhibition as the chief guest.
Nazneen Azim, chairperson of Gulshan Literacy Program Foundation and Director of Azim and son (Pvt.) Ltd. and engineer Iftikhar Kajol, Managing Director of Totaltel will be present there as special guests.
Dr. Niaz Zaman, Adviser of Department of English of Independent University, will preside over the function, said a press release.
Artist Proshanta Karnakar Buddha has created his own style in art that is modern and unique. His paintings were exhibited in at least 29 solo and 96 national and international group exhibitions such as “Peace”, “Light”, Happy Life” and “Open Dorr”.
He got several national and international awards including the 1992 “Honorable Mention” at a competition under Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, the 1991 Okamoto Prize by Asian Cultural Center for UNESCO in Tokyo.
Minneapolis, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — The University of Minnesota has awarded the late rock star Prince an honorary degree to recognize his influence on music and his role in shaping his hometown of Minneapolis.
University President Eric Kaler and Regent Darrin Rosha presented the school's highest honor, the Doctorate of Humane Letters, to Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, in a ceremony on campus Wednesday evening. The university had been preparing to present it to Prince himself before his death in 2016.
Students from the university's School of Music were joined by guest artists including St. Paul Peterson and Cameron Kinghorn in paying tribute to Prince by performing music associated with his career.
While the event was free, it was booked to capacity ahead of time.
Texas, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) – Every dog might have its day, but not many ever had a night like this.
Cheered on by a roaring, packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, the playful beagle responded like a true champ.
"Ah-roo!" Uno bayed that evening, a decade ago. "Ah-roo!"
Uno, who became perhaps the most popular pooch to step into a dog show ring, has died. He was 13.
From a president to parades to ballparks, Uno charmed admirers wherever he wandered.
"He lit everyone's fire," longtime dog expert David Frei said. "It's because he was exactly the kind of dog everyone could imagine on the couch next to them."
Uno died Thursday at the 200-acre ranch where he lived in Austin, Texas. He was in good health until the last month or so when cancer advanced.
"Everybody loved him," said Dan Huebner, who manages the ranch for Uno owner Caroline Dowell.
No beagle had won the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show until Uno did good ol' Snoopy proud, barking his way to the prized silver bowl in 2008. He was clearly the crowd favorite and fans exulted when he was picked, giving the 15-inch champ a standing ovation.
Uno soon was the first Westminster winner to visit the White House, with President George W. Bush and wife Laura meeting him in the Rose Garden and presenting him with a red, white and blue collar.
The tri-color package of personality later rode in a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, took part in first-pitch ceremonies at Busch Stadium and Miller Park and even had his own bobblehead.
Uno spent years traveling, welcomed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and hospitals across the country as a certified therapy dog.
He also enjoyed celebrity status with a good seat on Midwest Airlines — in St. Louis, the computer once selected him for additional screening, and security guards waved a wand over him.
Frei, the television voice of Westminster for more than a quarter-century, was Uno's frequent companion on the road. Over his years, he saw about 70,000 dogs judged on the green carpet of the Garden.
"There was never one like him," Frei said. "That's no disrespect to all the other great dogs. But when Uno won, I said I'd have to rent out an apartment in New York City for him because I'd be traveling with him all year, so many people would want to see him. And that's what happened, he was such an all-American dog."
Owning a champion's name of K-Run's Park Me in First, it was an easy stretch to call him Uno. He lived up to that, as the No. 1 beagle to win Westminster (Miss P the beagle won in 2015).
As for Uno puppies, there weren't any. He was sterile.
"It has never bothered me a bit," Dowell said several years ago. "To tell you the truth, it was a blessing in disguise. I just wanted him as a pet."
In later years, as Uno's brown and black began to fade to white, he spent his days playing outdoors with a neighbor's potbellied pig and romping around his house in Texas with other beagles.
"He just had a blast," Huebner said. "He had it made in the shade."
Mexico City, Sep 20 (AP/UNB) — Pop singer Belinda may have illegally interfered in Mexico's politics because she's a Spanish citizen and campaigned for President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, authorities said Wednesday.
A rival party filed a complaint because the singer gave out articles with Lopez Obrador campaign emblems.
The singer, whose real name is Belinda Peregrin Schull, also appeared in his campaign.
Mexico's electoral court said her actions appear to have violated Article 33 of the constitution, which says "foreigners may not in any way become involved in the political affairs of the country."
The court did not sanction the singer, but instead "ordered the case referred to the Interior Department to determine further actions in accordance with the law."
Technically, the government has the power to expel foreigners for such acts.