Tracing the unhurried history of iconic director Yasujiro Ozu

Dec 7, 2013

Tracing the unhurried history of iconic director Yasujiro Ozu

Dec. 12, 1903: Yasujiro Ozu is born in Tokyo’s Fukagawa district, the second of five siblings. His father is a prosperous fertilizer wholesaler from Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture. Ozu lives in Matsusaka with his brothers and sisters from 1913 to 1924. Aug. 2, 1923: After ...

'Hajimari mo Owari mo Nai (No Beginning, No End)'

Dec 5, 2013

'Hajimari mo Owari mo Nai (No Beginning, No End)'

When I first saw a trailer for Shunya Ito’s “Hajimari mo Owari mo Nai (No Beginning, No End),” an all-but dialogue-free film starring dancer/actor Min Tanaka, I thought it might be a 95-minute performance piece — and thus better reviewed by a dance critic ...

'Shijushichinin no Shikaku (47 Ronin)'

Dec 5, 2013

'Shijushichinin no Shikaku (47 Ronin)'

Director: Kon Ichikawa Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This 1994 Kon Ichikawa version of the classic “Chushingura” tale stars Ken Takakura as the leader of the 47 masterless samurai bent on revenge. The film has Ichikawa’s characteristic visual flair, including spirited swordfight action in ...

Yamashita and Maeda reunite for slacker dramedy

Nov 28, 2013

Yamashita and Maeda reunite for slacker dramedy

Nobuhiro Yamashita has used a variety of sources for his films since his 1999 feature debut “Donten Seikatasu (Hazy Life),” including his own experiences as a struggling indie director. But the inspiration for his latest, “Moratorium Tamako (Tamako in Moratorium),” is out of the ...

'Moratorium Tamako (Tamako in Moratorium)'

Nov 28, 2013

'Moratorium Tamako (Tamako in Moratorium)'

Japanese college students may be the nation’s leisure class, known more for their partying and playing than studying, but their seemingly carefree minds are often clouded by worries about a post-graduation job. Even serious students — yes, they do exist — have to sweat ...

'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 ...