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The Ken Watanabe Gambit
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Since movie director Christopher Nolan is exceedingly clever, I presume that he decided to give many of the critical lines explaining what’s going on in Inception to Japanese star Ken Watanable — who, over the course of a long career in Hollywood movies, has never learned to reliably pronounce English words comprehensibly — so that audience members will come back a second time so they can listen harder.

My son’s review: “A Christopher Nolan movie about sleeping (Inception) is a lot more exciting than a Christopher Nolan movie about not sleeping (Insomnia).”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Come on now Steve. Do we really need to bash Ken Watanabe for his less than stellar English? The guy's not even an American citizen. Even if the White Nationalists get their wish and America becomes entirely free of non-Whites, you'll still have Hollywood movies with international casts.

  2. Yeah, because no international star can speak English intelligibly, so whadaya whadaya? Like that Christoph Waltz who played the Nazi colonel in "Inglourious Basterd" — man, he was completely incomprehensible.

  3. Well, I was going to comment on this thread until I realized that Christopher Nolan is not Christopher Guest and Ken Watanabe is not Yun-Fat Chow.

    So I got nothing.

    [Although there was some really gorgeous cinematography in The Last Samurai.]

  4. what exactly motivates your accusation that Ken Watanabe and his relatives are "gaming" the UCLA system?

    seems like just resentment and envy to me.

  5. Ken Watanbe always seemed like great actor to me. No reason to pick on him specifically.

  6. Forget the English. I would have appreciated some decent acting by Watanabe. Still, Inception was very impressive, and I was reminded of the power of memes. We need to generate some that people can't get out of their heads.

    By the way, Insomnia kept me wide awake.

  7. That was Ken Watanabe?

    I could've sworn it was Jackie Chan.

  8. I'd go to see Watanabe in a Japanese-language film — he's a natural star — but if you are going to put him in an English language film, make him taciturn and enigmatic and don't give him a lot of complicated lines to articulate.

    Anyway, Nolan did a lot to make "Inception" reasonably comprehensible (lots of repetition and redundancy), so it's odd he went with Watanabe. Perhaps it's easier to understand him in real life (or the real Watanabe likes to talk about something else — the weather, what's for lunch, etc. — besides neurological metaphysics).

  9. Take the DVD home & turn on the "closed caption" feature. You'll get every word. No more missing dialogue because some actor is mumbling his way thru a bad Brando impression.

  10. Watanabe's English is fine in my opinion, and it's great compared to most Japanese

    He's also a very good actor; he made Cruise look like a little boy in The Last Samurai.

  11. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    TV writers, especially in the science-heavy procedurals and sci fi shows have had this one figured out for ages. You always give the exposition to the actor who a: speaks clearly, b: speaks quickly, and c: is funny.

    Hence the cliché of the sarcastic, fast-talking lab tech or starship engineer.

  12. "Sam said…

    Watanabe's English is fine in my opinion, and it's great compared to most Japanese

    He's also a very good actor; he made Cruise look like a little boy in The Last Samurai."

    The found the very idea of that movie repugnant. We were all supposed to feel sorry for the poor put-upon samurai being humiliated by the new soldiers – the peasants with rifles. What was unsaid was that the peasants of Japan had suffered humiliation and sudden arbitrary death from the samurai for hundreds of years. The scene where those peasants are mowing down the samurai with gatling guns seemed pretty fitting to me.

  13. Yeah, what Mr. Anon said.

    The Tom Cruise character feels sad for the Indians, so he goes to Japan and joins the (local) Cowboys. Talk about brain damage.

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