The man who lives for the art of dying

Jul 16, 2014

The man who lives for the art of dying

Interviewing Seizo Fukumoto, the star of Ken Ochiai’s backstage drama “Uzumasa Limelight,” I wished I had brought a video camera, instead of my voice recorder and notepad. As he talks, this veteran kirare-yaku — an actor whose forte is being cut down with a ...

Reflections on the dark side of a tropical island

Jul 16, 2014

Reflections on the dark side of a tropical island

Naomi Kawase was once Japan’s best-known female director abroad; now she is one of its most internationally prominent directors, regardless of gender. This change is largely due to her long association with the Cannes film festival, where her first fiction feature, “Moe no Suzaku ...

Judge!

Jul 16, 2014

Judge!

Director: Akira Nagai Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Scripted by Yoshimitsu Sawamoto and directed by Akira Nagai — both insiders in Japan’s advertising business — “Judge!” stars Satoshi Tsumabuki as an entry-level adman drafted to impersonate his boss on a TV CM awards jury ...

'Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)'

Jul 9, 2014

'Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)'

Since its start nearly three decades ago, Studio Ghibli has been dominated by the creativity of co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. But since the turn of the millennium, five of its 10 feature films have been made by other, younger directors. One reason ...

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Jul 9, 2014

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki Language: Japanese, German, Italian, French (subtitled in English) “Kaze Tachinu” (“The Wind Rises”) is Hayao Miyazaki’s last feature film (unless he comes out of retirement) and also one of his most personal. The film is about Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of ...

'Nanpu (Riding the Breeze)'

Jul 2, 2014

'Nanpu (Riding the Breeze)'

Movies about women who fly off to foreign climes to reboot their lives are a thriving subgenre, though the heroines are mostly from well-off countries, Japan included. Women from the more troubled parts of the world may also cross borders to start new lives, ...

'Bilocation'

Jul 2, 2014

'Bilocation'

Director: Mari Asato Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) In Mari Asato’s new shocker, a struggling artist (Asami Mizukawa) finds herself caught in a bizarre life-or-death battle with a double of herself, hived from her troubled psyche and bent on replacing the “original.” Asato constructs ...

'Kawaki (The World of Kanako)'

Jun 26, 2014

'Kawaki (The World of Kanako)'

Some parents pride themselves on knowing their teenage children, and some parents truly don’t have a clue. There is a fair amount of overlap between the two groups, especially when the teenagers try to please Mom and Dad while going their own sweet way. ...

'Petal Dance'

Jun 26, 2014

'Petal Dance'

Director: Hiroshi Ishikawa Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) In this 2013 drama two college friends (Sakura Ando and Aoi Miyazaki) enlist a young stranger (Shiori Kutsuna) to drive them north to visit a former classmate (Kazue Fukiishi) who attempted suicide. The ensuing action feels ...

'Watashi no Otoko (My Man)'

Jun 19, 2014

'Watashi no Otoko (My Man)'

Based on a novel by Kazuki Sakuraba, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “Watashi no Otoko (My Man)” is described as a film about forbidden love, which immediately raises the question of what, if anything, is “forbidden” in this day and age. In Kumakiri’s other films — such ...