'Ishibumi': Tragic history set in stone

Jul 13, 2016

'Ishibumi': Tragic history set in stone

An annual ritual on Japanese television on or around Aug. 6 is a number of special programs about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truth be told, after many years in this country I tune out more than I tune in. Just as ...

'Desperate Sunflowers': Women on the verge of friendship

Jun 29, 2016

'Desperate Sunflowers': Women on the verge of friendship

Movies about female friendship are no longer rare: In the 25 years since the seminal “Thelma and Louise,” even the Japanese film industry has figured out that two or more women bonding on screen can be good for the box office. But what about ...

Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

Jun 22, 2016

Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

Naomi Kawase has always been an outlier in the Japanese film world, if a very successful one. Born and raised in Nara Prefecture, the site of Japan’s ancient capital, she started making documentaries while a student at the Osaka School of Photography in the ...

'Kako: My Sullen Past': Mikiko, the prodigal bomb maker

Jun 22, 2016

'Kako: My Sullen Past': Mikiko, the prodigal bomb maker

Would anyone in Hollywood now green-light a film with a quirky middle-aged heroine whose passion is making and detonating bombs? Especially one with no apologies for her explosive past, human collateral included? I can imagine the tremors at the pitch meeting when someone says ...

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

Jun 15, 2016

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

The title of “Creepy,” the new shocker by horror maestro Kiyoshi Kurosawa, sounds like an in-jokey self-parody. It’s like titling a new Adam Sandler comedy “Goofy” (or if you’re not feeling charitable, “Crappy”). But “Creepy,” which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is ...

'Danchi': The extraordinary everywoman

Jun 1, 2016

'Danchi': The extraordinary everywoman

“Danchi” doesn’t translate easily into English. “Apartment complex” or “housing estate” are only rough equivalents for the thousands of public-housing units thrown up in the postwar boom years to cope with Tokyo’s exploding population. Equipped with running water, flush toilets and other amenities, with ...