Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)

Mar 18, 2015

Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Based on Joan G. Robinson’s beloved fantasy novel “When Marnie Was There,” director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and his Studio Ghibli animators have made a delightful film about a budding friendship between two girls in the Hokkaido countryside, ...

Can idol group Momoiro Clover Z learn to act?

Mar 11, 2015

Can idol group Momoiro Clover Z learn to act?

The typical Japanese movie about the travails and triumphs of a high school club follows an upward arc, as the audience cheers on the heroes to their foregone triumph over setbacks and defeats. The actualities of how they become more accomplished swing musicians, as ...

Rurouni Kenshin: Densetsu no Saigo-hen (Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends)

Mar 11, 2015

Rurouni Kenshin: Densetsu no Saigo-hen (Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends)

Director: Keishi Ohtomo Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This conclusion to the “Rurouni Kenshin” duology — about a former assassin (Takeru Satoh) who has vowed to never kill again — is packed with chanbara (Japanese-style swordplay) and Hong Kong martial arts acrobatics. It may ...

In the cinematic wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Mar 4, 2015

In the cinematic wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

In January 2013 Eiga Geijutsu magazine released its annual “Best 10 and Worst 10″ lists. The two worst films of 2012, as chosen by the magazine’s panel of critics, were Sion Sono’s “Himizu” and “Kibo no Kuni (Land of Hope).” The former is about ...

Mujin Chitai (No Man's Zone)

Mar 4, 2015

Mujin Chitai (No Man's Zone)

Director: Toshi Fujiwara Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) As the anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown of March 11, 2011, approaches, Toshi Fujiwara’s documentary is a useful reminder of what the Tohoku region suffered. With actress Arsinee Khanjian’s solemnly intoning commentary, ...

Japan's Academy Prizes — the fix is in?

Feb 25, 2015

Japan's Academy Prizes — the fix is in?

Comedian, actor and director Takeshi Kitano had some scathing things to say about the Japanese film industry at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, where he was given a career achievement award. One target he singled out was the Japan Academy Prizes — the ...

Waking up and smelling the roasted coffee

Feb 25, 2015

Waking up and smelling the roasted coffee

Thomas Wolfe’s posthumous novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” was published in 1940, and critics and readers have been debating the truth of its title ever since. Wolfe himself had no doubt: His autobiographical writings, with their biting, thinly disguised portraits, made him persona ...