'Seymour: An Introduction': For the love of music and its craft

Sep 21, 2016

'Seymour: An Introduction': For the love of music and its craft

Watching the quiet, classical-music-infused “Seymour: An Introduction” made me recall another film about a musician: the jazz drama “Whiplash,” which made a lot of splashes and won three Oscars. The two may be completely different experiences, yet the films seem to play off each ...

Love beyond the laws of physics and nature

Sep 14, 2016

Love beyond the laws of physics and nature

“Correspondence” (also known as “La Corrispondenza”) is the kind of romance the Japanese have traditionally loved to love — two people locked in a relationship that barely exists. In this scheme of things, physical remoteness offsets but strengthens an emotional connection. It’s a concept ...

'The BFG': With an emphasis on the friendly

Sep 14, 2016

'The BFG': With an emphasis on the friendly

The Japanese have never really warmed to the stories of Roald Dahl, with the exception of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Even then, they’re probably not thinking of Dahl, it’s more about Johnny Depp and the Wonka Chocolate bars sold at most high-end supermarkets ...

Asakusa: in the glow of Nippon kitsch

Sep 10, 2016

Asakusa: in the glow of Nippon kitsch

Every once in a while, the Japanese have to remind themselves that they’re Japanese. We feel the need to reconfirm that we are part of a long and enduring traditional culture — one which includes kimono, samurai, ninja, eels on rice, and other weird ...

'Bittersweet': A Henry Higgins of vegetarianism

Sep 7, 2016

'Bittersweet': A Henry Higgins of vegetarianism

The idea of “love” in Japan used to be defined by literature until manga came along and changed the scenery. Now, almost everyone dips into manga to learn the ropes, and often that process starts as early as the first grade. My niece was ...

Japan's team spirit remains youthful in anime

Aug 31, 2016

Japan's team spirit remains youthful in anime

The word “seishun” (“youth”) comprises the kanji characters for the words “blue” and “spring,” which connotes the freshness and innocence of those earlier years in life. It’s also the name of a genre of anime and manga. Even as the population ages, seishun manga ...

'Self/Less': Losing oneself in the narrative

Aug 31, 2016

'Self/Less': Losing oneself in the narrative

The age of excessive high-tech is a good time to be filthy rich, especially if you happen to be an entitled scoundrel whose level of wealth-fueled egomania makes Scrooge look like a benevolent fuddy-duddy. In “Self/Less,” Ben Kingsley as New York real estate mogul ...

There are some very big issues with 'Little Boy'

Aug 24, 2016

There are some very big issues with 'Little Boy'

Seventy-one years after Japan surrendered in World War II, a taboo in Japan has been broken, or, more precisely, ripped apart. A movie specifically about the U.S-Japan conflict that more than mentions the atomic bombs, directed by Mexico’s Alejandro Monteverde, is opening this weekend. ...