'Wara no Tate (Shield of Straw)'

Nov 28, 2013

'Wara no Tate (Shield of Straw)'

Director: Takashi Miike Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This 2012 thriller by the prolific Takashi Miike has a terrific premise: Transporting a slimy child-killer across Japan, cops must fend off would-be vigilantes out to claim a huge reward on the miscreant’s head. After a ...

'Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)'

Nov 21, 2013

'Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)'

Isao Takahata has long been overshadowed by longtime colleague and Studio Ghibli cofounder Hayao Miyazaki. The younger man (Takahata is 78, Miyazaki 72) has had more and bigger hits, including his latest, the World War II-themed “Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises),” while Takahata’s last ...

'Gokudo Kyofu Dai-gekijo: Gozu (Gozu)'

Nov 21, 2013

'Gokudo Kyofu Dai-gekijo: Gozu (Gozu)'

Director: Takashi Miike Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Made when Takashi Miike was still a cult hero rather than a commercial success, 2003′s “Gokudo Kyofu Dai-gekijo: Gozu (Gozu)” began life as a straight-to-DVD yakuza pic, but its brilliantly disturbing black humor and surreal imagery ...

'Yurusenai, Aitai (Again)'

Nov 14, 2013

'Yurusenai, Aitai (Again)'

Press screenings here are usually cut-and-dry affairs, with the sole sales pitch being a PR staffer reciting the film’s opening date and running time before the show begins. The one I attended for “Yurusenai, Aitai (Again),” the feature debut by award-winning shorts director Junichi ...

'Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko (Pom Poko)'

Nov 14, 2013

'Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko (Pom Poko)'

Director: Isao Takahata Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Isao Takahata has been overshadowed by Studio Ghibli cofounder Hayao Miyazaki, but this 1994 fantasy about tanuki (raccoon dogs) who fight a battle of survival with humans invading their forest haven was the studio’s biggest hit ...

'Shijukunichi no Recipe (Mourning Recipe)'

Nov 7, 2013

'Shijukunichi no Recipe (Mourning Recipe)'

In these days of ubiquitous movie prerelease news and hype, it’s harder to remain a blank sheet going into the theater — unless you totally block out everything but the title. Still, walking into a screening of Yuki Tanada’s family drama “Shijukunichi no Recipe ...

'Himawari to Koinu no Nanokakan (7 Days of Himawari & Her Puppies)'

Nov 7, 2013

'Himawari to Koinu no Nanokakan (7 Days of Himawari & Her Puppies)'

Director: Emiko Hiramatsu Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) A tearjerker for dog lovers, this Emiko Hiramatsu melodrama, based on a novel by Yumi Yamashita, nonetheless addresses the problem of dogs left to die in animal shelters with a realism some may find shocking. The ...

'Kiyosu Kaigi (The Kiyosu Conference)'

Oct 31, 2013

'Kiyosu Kaigi (The Kiyosu Conference)'

Koki Mitani is one of those very Japanese conundrums: Considered a master of comedy and a box-office king at home, he remains little known abroad — despite a career that spans three decades and includes work as a playwright and scriptwriter, as well as ...

'Late Mizoguchi'

Oct 31, 2013

'Late Mizoguchi'

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Eureka Entertainment of the U.K. has released an eight-film Blu-ray box set of films by Kenji Mizoguchi, universally regarded as a master of not only Japanese but world cinema. The limited-edition set of 2,000 includes 1950s ...

'Bashauma-san to Bigmouth (The Workhorse and the Bigmouth)'

Oct 24, 2013

'Bashauma-san to Bigmouth (The Workhorse and the Bigmouth)'

It’s hardly surprising that gaman (“perseverance”) is the watchword of many a local movie. Just as their heroes gut through to glory in film after film, real-life Japanese endure everything from deadly natural disasters to boring meetings, telling each other to ganbaro (“keep trying”). ...