'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”). ...

'Mimi wo Kaku Onna (The Ear Cleaner)'

Oct 24, 2013

'Mimi wo Kaku Onna (The Ear Cleaner)'

Director: Hiroshi Horiuchi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Hiroshi Horiuchi’s 2012 drama about a girl (Rina Sakuragi) who becomes psychologically deaf after a 3/11 trauma and finds an unusual part-time job in an ear-cleaning establishment is awkwardly acted, but newcomer Sakuragi’s combination of purity ...

TIFF's programming director explains the festival's direction

Oct 17, 2013

TIFF's programming director explains the festival's direction

Since 2007, when he took over as programming director of the Tokyo International Film Festival’s Competition section, Yoshihiko “Yoshi” Yatabe has been a point person in TIFF’s drive to elevate its status in the region and the world. A former film distributor, publicist and ...

'Jinrui Shikin (Human Trust)'

Oct 17, 2013

'Jinrui Shikin (Human Trust)'

Sometimes as a reviewer of Japanese films I feel I am on the wrong side of the cultural divide, with no way to bridge the gap. Such a disconnect struck as I watched Junji Sakamoto’s “Jinrui Shikin (Human Trust),” a thriller based on a ...

Oct 17, 2013

'Gokudo Kuroshakai/Nihon Kuroshakai'

Director: Takashi Miike Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Tartan Asia Extreme of the U.K. has released new DVDs of two Takashi Miike classics: 1997′s “Gokudo Kuroshakai (Rainy Dog)” and 1999′s “Nihon Kuroshakai (Ley Lines).” As the Japanese titles indicate, these films are set in ...

TIFF is your chance to catch up with Japanese film

Oct 10, 2013

TIFF is your chance to catch up with Japanese film

The Tokyo International Film Festival, now in its 26th edition, has had its share of detractors, dissing it for everything from competition lineups of major festival castoffs (no longer true since TIFF stopped insisting on world premieres) to a Special Screening section that is ...

'Kids Return: Saikai no Toki (Kids Return: The Reunion)'

Oct 10, 2013

'Kids Return: Saikai no Toki (Kids Return: The Reunion)'

Released in 1996, “Kids Return” was a change of pace for director Takeshi Kitano, whose films to date had usually starred Kitano himself as a cop or a gangster, meting out violence with a brutal efficiency and a wry black humor. Critics mostly admired ...

'Tokyo Fist'

Oct 10, 2013

'Tokyo Fist'

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) On Nov. 25, Third Window Films of the U.K. will release a remastered Blu-ray of “Tokyo Fist,” a 1995 film by Shinya Tsukamoto. A followup to his cyber-punk classics “Tetsuo (Tetsuo: The Iron Man)” and “Tetsuo ...

'R100'

Oct 3, 2013

'R100'

The world premiere of Hitoshi Matsumoto’s “R100″ in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section must be frustrating for all those Japanese auteurs out there who got rejection letters from North America’s most important festival. True, the section is devoted to quirk and ...

'E no Naka no Boku no Mura (Village of Dreams)'

Oct 3, 2013

'E no Naka no Boku no Mura (Village of Dreams)'

Director: Yoichi Higashi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) “E no Naka no Boku no Mura (Village of Dreams)” is now available in Japan as an English-subbed DVD. Based on the memoirs of identical-twin painters, this 1996 film depicts their early postwar childhoods with realism, ...