The Hollywood movie “Babel” received at 12-minute standing ovation at the Cannes International Film Festival yesterday. The movie stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and features one of Japan’s finest actors in Yakusho Koji (50). It was directed by Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu, who was in tears as the applause and handshakes from the audience of 2,500 just kept coming. The movie is set in Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Japan, and the story begins with a tragedy striking a married couple on vacation. It is entered in the competition section and is considered a strong candidate for the Palme d’Or. Yakusho has experienced the big prize before, winning in 1997 with “Unagi.” Other Japanese appearing at Cannes this year include actor Odagiri Jo (30), making his third trip to the festival, and director Nishikawa Miwa (31).
• Also at Cannes, the movie version of the manga “Death Note” has been receiving lots of interest from international distributors. More than 50 companies are said to have expressed interest, and deals have been tied up for eight countries in Asia. The hugely popular manga, which has sold over 14 million copies, has been translated into several languages and has been popular throughout the Far East. The first of two movies, directed by Kaneko and starring Fujiwara Tatsuya, is set to open in Japan on June 17. The second movie is scheduled to open in October.
• Olympic gold medallist Arakawa Shizuka (24) is to make her dramatic debut. The winner of the figure skating gold, Japan’s only medal at the recent Turin Winter Olympics, will appear in the June 1 episode of the TV Asahi legal drama series “Shichinin no Onna Bengoshi.” She will play a prosecutor battling in the courtroom and on the ice rink against series star Shaku Yumiko (27).
• Popular fortune teller Hosoki Kazuko (68) has written a letter of complaint to Fuji TV. She was unhappy that a “bad guy” character in the May 1 episode of the Fuji drama series “Top Caster” was clearly based on her. Hosoki’s huge popularity as a writer – her phenomenal book sales put her in the Guinness Book of Records – and sharp-shooting granny has spawned a whole new genre of variety show.