'My Uncle': Time to wake up and smell the coffee

Oct 26, 2016

'My Uncle': Time to wake up and smell the coffee

Some movies are like a relaxing soak in a bubble bath with your favorite rubber duck. Your soul may not soar, but when you finally emerge you feel lighter on your feet and at peace with the world. What’s wrong with that? That was ...

Japan's eclectic collection of choice

Oct 19, 2016

Japan's eclectic collection of choice

The Tokyo International Film Festival offers a great once-in-a-year opportunity to see new and classic Japanese films with English subtitles. The sheer quantity on offer — more than 50 titles in the main sections alone — can be overwhelming, though. Here are samples from ...

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's cinematic apparitions

Oct 12, 2016

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's cinematic apparitions

Directors who become known as horror specialists often end up making little else, whether by choice or not. Labeled a “horrormeister” for such supremely creepy films as “Cure” (1997) and “Pulse” (Kairo, 2001), Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one director who has successfully expanded beyond the ...

'The Long Excuse': Can a jerk find redemption?

Oct 12, 2016

'The Long Excuse': Can a jerk find redemption?

Miwa Nishikawa has made films about various sorts of scapegraces and con artists, but her latest, “The Long Excuse,” may be her first about a certifiable jerk. There’s no other way to describe Sachio Kinugasa (Masahiro Motoki), a middle-aged celebrity novelist who pontificates on ...

My Dad and Mr. Ito: No one can be daddy's girl forever

Oct 5, 2016

My Dad and Mr. Ito: No one can be daddy's girl forever

The opening of Yuki Tanada’s new film “My Dad and Mr. Ito” promises a comedy of the quirky family variety. The 34-year-old Aya (Juri Ueno) and her 54-year-old lover (Lily Franky), whom she calls “Ito-san” (Mr. Ito), are living in age-inappropriate, tight-budgeted bliss when ...

'Harmonium': Dangerously good family drama

Sep 28, 2016

'Harmonium': Dangerously good family drama

The films of Koji Fukada have long wrapped ambitious themes in deceptively unassuming genre packages. His 2011 international breakout “Hospitalite” (“Kantai”) begins as a quirky comedy but becomes a sharp-edged drama of deceptions and secrets. Last year’s “Sayonara” starts as an offbeat essay in ...

'Scoop!': Read all about it here

Sep 21, 2016

'Scoop!': Read all about it here

Japanese weekly scandal magazines are pond scum, are they not? Dishing up grainy paparazzi photos of the famous and powerful, accompanied by wink-wink stories about improprieties and crimes — alleged or exposed — they appeal to the lowest common denominator, with their only raison ...

Yuki Tanada's new film sees the humor in societal changes

Sep 17, 2016

Yuki Tanada's new film sees the humor in societal changes

The Japanese women directors who have been gaining attention in the past two decades, beginning with frequent Cannes invitee Naomi Kawase, tend to be serious types, understandably. Their struggle for respect and recognition in a male-dominated industry is difficult enough — and goofy comedies ...