A second look at bloody WWII novel 'Fires on the Plain'

Jul 22, 2015

A second look at bloody WWII novel 'Fires on the Plain'

Japanese war films typically frame themselves as anti-war, even when they glorify the sacrifices made by brave Japanese boys in defense of the homeland, as in the 2013 hit “Eien no Zero” (“The Eternal Zero”). Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 war film “Nobi” (“Fires on the ...

Hayao Miyazaki cleans up Japan

| Jul 15, 2015

Hayao Miyazaki cleans up Japan

Rich, famous, semi-retired people commonly take up good causes (based on whatever they define as “good”), but animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki does things differently. Instead of penning an op-ed or speaking at a rally, he recently invited members of the The Foreign Correspondents’ Club ...

Mass murder and Sion Sono

Jul 8, 2015

Mass murder and Sion Sono

A disturbed individual kills, and the media searches for reasons why. Sometimes, the killer obligingly cites a pop culture phenomenon as inspiration. Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon, saw himself as the living embodiment of Holden Caulfield, the hero of J.D. ...

Slowing a spiral of negativity in Mipo Oh's 'Being Good'

Jun 24, 2015

Slowing a spiral of negativity in Mipo Oh's 'Being Good'

When I was a student teacher at an elementary school in Livonia, Michigan, I saw some things that shocked me. Once I watched a male teacher grabbing a disruptive fourth-grader by the neck and forcing his head toward the floor, while pouring out a ...

Hirokazu Koreeda on his new drama about women with 'shadows'

Jun 17, 2015

Hirokazu Koreeda on his new drama about women with 'shadows'

When Hirokazu Koreeda’s gently offbeat family drama “Umimachi Diary” (“Our Little Sister”) was screened in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, both audiences and the media were enthusiastic — a story for the Reuters news agency described it as “Palme d’Or material.” But ...

Japan's toxic prophets are revealed in 'Yokokuhan' adaptation

Jun 10, 2015

Japan's toxic prophets are revealed in 'Yokokuhan' adaptation

Directors of the better Japanese commercial films typically carve out thematic or stylistic niches for themselves, so that even if they do a manga adaptation for the masses, it’s their kind of manga filmed in their kind of way. One is Yoshihiro Nakamura, a ...