'Sakura, Futatabi no Kanako (Orpheus' Lyre)'

Apr 5, 2013

'Sakura, Futatabi no Kanako (Orpheus' Lyre)'

I used to think that religion in Japan was for most a matter of custom, not belief. You clap your hands at the shrine because that’s what people do, not because you think the resident gods are actually listening. But as Minoru Kurimura’s drama ...

'Rentaneko (Rent-a-Cat)'

Apr 5, 2013

'Rentaneko (Rent-a-Cat)'

Director: Naoko Ogigami Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) A good DVD to watch after a tough day (or week or year) is “Rentaneko (Rent-a-Cat),” Naoko Ogigami’s relaxing-yet-entertaining 2012 dramady about a cool cat lady (Mikako Ichikawa) who “rents” felines to lonely people, but turns ...

'Daijobu 3kumi (Nobody's Perfect)'

Mar 29, 2013

'Daijobu 3kumi (Nobody's Perfect)'

Teaching kids is usually not thought of as a physically taxing job, but take it from one who has done it: It is, especially in Japanese schools, where one teacher may have to deal with 40 bundles of not-always-well-behaved energy. I spent much of ...

'Outrage Beyond'

Mar 29, 2013

'Outrage Beyond'

Director: Takeshi Kitano Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Coming out in Japan on April 12 are the English-subbed DVD and Blu-ray of “Outrage Beyond,” Takeshi Kitano’s triumphant return to yakuza-movie form. This film about a devious cop who manipulates two big gangs into a ...

Kids with guns on film, blasting at the culture gap

Mar 22, 2013

Kids with guns on film, blasting at the culture gap

Contemporary Japanese films are often extremely violent; the lives of ordinary Japanese, much less so. According to a multinational study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Japan’s homicide rate in 2009 was 0.4 per 100,000 population, for a total of ...

Tokyo Teyandei: The Story Teller's Apprentice

Mar 22, 2013

Tokyo Teyandei: The Story Teller's Apprentice

Rakugo, the ancient Japanese art of sit-down comedy, has inspired movies including Shinpei Hayashiya’s “Rakugo Monogatari (Rakugo Story)” (2010) and Hideyuki Hirayama’s “Shaberedomo Shaberedomo (Talk, Talk, Talk)” (2007), but Yuji Kanda’s “Tokyo Teyandei: The Story Teller’s Apprentice” (simply called “The Story Teller’s Apprentice” in ...

Tetsuo series

Mar 22, 2013

Tetsuo series

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Shinya Tsukamoto’s cyberpunk classics “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” and “Tetsuo 2: Body Hammer” are now available in a double-disc Blu-ray set, remastered from negatives and released by Third Window of the U.K. The set includes an ...

'Purachina Deta (Platinum Data)'

Mar 15, 2013

'Purachina Deta (Platinum Data)'

Why are so many Japanese sci-fi thrillers so sure our near-future rulers will try to tyrannize us, dehumanize us or, as in “Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale),” make us slaughter each other, even when our only crime is possessing raging adolescent hormones? Given what I’ve ...