'Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)'

Jan 16, 2014

'Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)'

Director: Yuya Ishii Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Yuya Ishii’s drama about a nerdy word maven (Ryuhei Matsuda) who spends decades editing a dictionary may not seem based on the most cinematic of topics, but Matsuda’s solid (if low-key) performance, as well as Ishii’s ...

An inside look at the anime industry

Jan 11, 2014

An inside look at the anime industry

Many books about anime and its makers have been published abroad in English and other languages, but few are by Japanese critics and scholars. In Japan, it’s the reverse, with non-Japanese anime writers excluded from publishers’ lists.

Fukada's young castaways on adulthood's shores

Jan 9, 2014

Fukada's young castaways on adulthood's shores

Born in Tokyo in 1980, Koji Fukada released his first film in 2004, but his breakthrough was 2010′s “Kantai (Hospitalité),” a witty black comedy about a mysterious stranger who talks his way into a job at a small Tokyo printing shop and is soon ...

'Hotori no Sakuko (Au Revoir l'Eté)'

Jan 9, 2014

'Hotori no Sakuko (Au Revoir l'Eté)'

Compared to his avant-garde French new-wave peers, Eric Rohmer seemed to direct in a lighter, more conventional key: All those casually chic young heroines photographed in the more attractive parts of France, all those stories about their various love troubles. Also, from a Hollywood ...

'Kagi Dorobo no Method (Key of Life)'

Jan 9, 2014

'Kagi Dorobo no Method (Key of Life)'

Director: Kenji Uchida Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Kenji Uchida is known for his clever scripts, directed with a brisk pace and flawless comic timing, and his latest film, about a failing actor (Masato Sakai) who exchanges identities with a successful hit man (Teruyuki ...

Our movie highlights of the coming year

Jan 2, 2014

Our movie highlights of the coming year

Another year, another raft of unmissable movies. Here are the most hotly anticipated releases for JT film critics Mark Schilling, Kaori Shoji and Giovanni Fazio — get them in your diary now. “American Hustle” (directed by David O. Russell; opens Jan. 31): After “The ...

'Seventh Code'

Jan 2, 2014

'Seventh Code'

One of the more baffling and maddening aspects of the pop music scene here for a lot of foreign observers, especially those who write about it for the English-language media, is the long-continuing and now overwhelming popularity of girl idol groups, whether or not ...

Mark Schilling's 2013 Top 10: Farewell to Ghibli's anime masters

Dec 26, 2013

Mark Schilling's 2013 Top 10: Farewell to Ghibli's anime masters

Japanese films did quite well both commercially and critically in 2013, with Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature animation, “Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises),” thumping the Hollywood competition at the local box office. But the industry’s over-reliance on sure-thing manga, TV shows and novels for source ...

Second opinion: Our Top 3 films in cross-review

Dec 26, 2013

Second opinion: Our Top 3 films in cross-review

Regular JT film critics Mark Schilling, Kaori Shoji and Giovanni Fazio got together at the Uplink theater/restaurant in Shibuya to talk about each other’s No. 1 films for 2013: “Cloud Atlas” (Fazio), “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Shoji) and “Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The ...

'Mugiko-san to (With Mugiko)'

Dec 26, 2013

'Mugiko-san to (With Mugiko)'

One reason for the lasting popularity of “Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story),” the 1953 Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece about a momentous visit by an elderly couple to their adult children in Tokyo, is that all too many of its viewers can see themselves in the film’s ...