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Mark Schilling

For Mark Schilling's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

'One Week Friends': Groundhog day in the 'friend zone'

/ Feb 15, 2017

'One Week Friends': Groundhog day in the 'friend zone'

Someday soon someone is going to come up with an algorithm for commercial seishun eiga (youth films). Plug in the variables — teenaged love in its more innocuous variations being first and foremost — and pop out a script for another hit. If not ...

'Survival Family': Soft-pedaling through dystopia

/ Feb 8, 2017

'Survival Family': Soft-pedaling through dystopia

To Hollywood, “dystopian future” usually means invading aliens, exotic technology and gigantic explosions. Shinobu Yaguchi’s “Survival Family” posits an alternative, more mundane cause of civilizational collapse: Japan’s electric grid suddenly freezes up, like a laptop that’s been doused with hot coffee. Televisions go blank, ...

Hiroki Matsukata: a gangster farewell

| Feb 1, 2017

Hiroki Matsukata: a gangster farewell

Hiroki Matsukata, who died at age 74 on Jan. 21, may have been born into an acting family — his father was jidaigeki (historical drama) actor Jushiro Konoe — but in his yakuza films for the Toei studio in the 1960s and ’70s, Matsukata’s ...

Publishing pioneer Kikuko Ireton introduced the world to Japanese film

Jan 28, 2017

Publishing pioneer Kikuko Ireton introduced the world to Japanese film

Kikuko Ireton, who co-founded “Movie/TV Marketing,” a pioneering English-language trade journal about the domestic film industry, died in Tokyo on Thursday from complications of pneumonia. Born on May 22, 1929, she was the second daughter of Shoichiro Kobayashi, a bank executive, and his wife, ...

'Honnouji Hotel': Drama on the wrong side of history

/ Jan 25, 2017

'Honnouji Hotel': Drama on the wrong side of history

Is Haruka Ayase the Japanese version of Anne Hathaway? In everything from their perky public personas and sterling work ethic to their toothy smiles and flawless complexions, the two stars symbolize a type of good-girl perfection. And yet they also rub some imperfect types ...

Sion Sono swan dives into Shinjuku's chaos

Jan 19, 2017

Sion Sono swan dives into Shinjuku's chaos

Celebrated abroad for films that mash up everything from extreme sex and gore to Christian imagery and classical music, Sion Sono has emerged as one of the most distinctive directors in Japanese cinema this century. His breakthrough came in 2001 with “Suicide Club,” in ...

Shinya Tsukamoto and the song of 'Silence'

Jan 18, 2017

Shinya Tsukamoto and the song of 'Silence'

Since his early films, such as “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” (1989) and “Tetsuo II: Body Hammer” (1992), pioneered the cyberpunk genre with a crazed energy and invention, Shinya Tsukamoto has had a reputation as Japanese cinema’s outlaw. While doing the occasional work for hire, ...

'Hamon: Yakuza Boogie': Dancing around the gangster issue

/ Jan 18, 2017

'Hamon: Yakuza Boogie': Dancing around the gangster issue

Over the years, acquaintances of mine have boasted of their brushes with local gangsters. But few, I would wager, have become pals with one. Yakuza and katagi (straight citizens) tend to move in separate circles, with the former often viewing the latter as sheep ...

'A Drop from Tomato': Planting the seeds of reconciliation

/ Jan 11, 2017

'A Drop from Tomato': Planting the seeds of reconciliation

For independent filmmakers from elsewhere in Asia with high censorship or distribution hurdles, Japan must look like paradise. Last year, most of the 581 local films released here were low-budget indie titles. Hardly any of their makers got rich, but at least their films ...