Hurt-till-you-laugh approach to making comedies

Nov 19, 2014

Hurt-till-you-laugh approach to making comedies

When Yosuke Fujita’s debut feature “Zenzen Daijobu (Fine, Totally Fine)” started making the international festival rounds in 2008, it charmed nearly everyone who saw it. This laugh-until-you-hurt comedy about two outsider pals in pursuit of the same socially awkward girl won the Nippon Cinema ...

Soko Nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku (The Light Shines Only There)

Nov 19, 2014

Soko Nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku (The Light Shines Only There)

Director: Mipo Oh Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Based on Yasushi Sato’s novel about two lost souls who find each other in a gritty Hokkaido port, this romantic drama has deservedly been named as Japan’s nominee for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language ...

Daijobu 3 Kumi (Nobody's Perfect)

Nov 12, 2014

Daijobu 3 Kumi (Nobody's Perfect)

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Based on Hirotada Ototake’s autobiographical novel about teaching in a primary school despite being born without arms and legs, Ryuichi Hiroki’s classroom drama was obviously made to educate and inspire. The film does not gloss over ...

Parasyte: Gory invasion of the cannibal body snatchers

Nov 5, 2014

Parasyte: Gory invasion of the cannibal body snatchers

The closing film of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, Takashi Yamazaki’s “Kiseiju: Part 1 (Parasyte: Part 1),” arrives in theaters with a lot of hype. Based on Hitoshi Iwaaki’s best-selling manga about the stealth invasion of Earth by alien parasites, the film is ...

Eien no 0 (The Eternal Zero)

Nov 5, 2014

Eien no 0 (The Eternal Zero)

Director: Takashi Yamazaki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Takashi Yamazaki’s 2013 film about World War II kamikaze pilots generated both big box-office receipts and major controversy. Boiled down, it’s about one pilot’s wish to return home alive, despite being branded a coward by his ...

Pale Moon: Bored bank teller embraces the root of all evil

Oct 29, 2014

Pale Moon: Bored bank teller embraces the root of all evil

American bank robber Willie Sutton, who allegedly made more than $2 million over a 40-year criminal career, once told a reporter that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” In the usual heist movie, however — with Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956) ...

Hayao Miyazaki Collection

Oct 29, 2014

Hayao Miyazaki Collection

Director: Hayao Miyazaki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Now that 73-year-old Hayao Miyazaki has retired from directing feature animations (die-hard fans still hope that his “never” means “maybe”), the time has come for career summations. One comes in the form of the Hayao Miyazaki ...

Spooky tales from beyond the grave

Oct 25, 2014

Spooky tales from beyond the grave

Ghost stories are universal, but Japanese ghost stories, argues Zack Davisson in “Yurei: The Japanese Ghost,” are unique. So much so that Davisson, a translator and essayist who is something of a specialist in the supernatural, uses yūrei, the Japanese word for spook, throughout ...