Kendo can bring Japan's passive smartphone zombies back to life

| Jul 6, 2015

Kendo can bring Japan's passive smartphone zombies back to life

When I visited the Nippon Budokan (日本武道館) to watch the Kokusai Kendo Senshuken (世界剣道選手権大会, World Kendo Championships), an unexpected surge of joy coursed through my veins. This is probably how Brazilians feel when watching a soccer match between their national team and anyone else: ...

Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer gazes long into the abysses of Asia

Jul 1, 2015

Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer gazes long into the abysses of Asia

In a world bent on looking only at the future, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer weaves his documentaries from memories and lives that are long gone. He astonished the film world in 2012 with his Oscar-nominated documentary “The Act of Killing,” whose central character, Anwar Congo, ...

Horror of 'Child 44' is bogged down by Soviet era bureaucracy

Jul 1, 2015

Horror of 'Child 44' is bogged down by Soviet era bureaucracy

The recurring line in “Child 44″ is, “there is no murder in paradise.” It’s a reflection of the political image projected in the Soviet Union during the Stalin era — these were a paradisal states, free from Western ills like poverty and crime, and ...

Apocalyptic desert sci-fi and the drying Hollywood landscape

| Jul 1, 2015

Apocalyptic desert sci-fi and the drying Hollywood landscape

Apocalypse now, in the desert — that’s the mood in American sci-fi films these days, as the epic Californian drought continues. Desert landscapes have always provided wonderful backdrops for doomsday movies — including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the “Mad Max” series, and even HBO’s ...

An ill-mannered hunt for fleeting beauty in Mike Leigh's 'Mr. Turner'

Jun 24, 2015

An ill-mannered hunt for fleeting beauty in Mike Leigh's 'Mr. Turner'

‘Mr. Turner,” a biopic of 19th-century English landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, came about when Mike Leigh, one of Britain’s most-treasured filmmakers, teamed up with English actor Timothy Spall. The film is a grand testimonial to the alchemy that happens when two great artists get ...

7-year-old 'Detective Conan' deserves more credit

| Jun 17, 2015

7-year-old 'Detective Conan' deserves more credit

For the past two decades I’ve nurtured a secret love for Conan, the boy detective of the “Meitantei Conan” (“Case Closed”) series — both Gosho Aoyama’s manga, which started in 1994, and the TV anime that began in 1996. The Japanese movie industry may ...

Surviving flamboyantly in a super-aged society

Jun 10, 2015

Surviving flamboyantly in a super-aged society

The older you get, the more you need to live in the city. Simone de Beauvoir once said that to her biographer, and it’s probably true. As an iconic presence on the streets of Paris until her death in 1986, de Beauvoir showed that ...