Okinawan prodigy returns to directing with 'Girl of the Sea'

Mar 9, 2016

Okinawan prodigy returns to directing with 'Girl of the Sea'

The once-arduous process of becoming a movie director in Japan — involving university film studies and years of assistant-director serfdom — has been drastically simplified. Technically, you can now shoot a movie on your smartphone and edit it on your laptop, with your name ...

| Mar 9, 2016

'Fukushima: A Nuclear Story' stands out among 3/11 documentaries

The Fukushima nuclear plant disaster has been examined in hundreds of documentaries to date, counting all media, nationalities and languages. But “Fukushima: A Nuclear Story” stands out for one simple, powerful reason: Its central figure, Italian journalist Pio d’Emilia, was among the first foreign ...

'Oyster Factory' dredges up the dreams and fears of Japan's rural workers

Mar 2, 2016

'Oyster Factory' dredges up the dreams and fears of Japan's rural workers

Japanese documentaries tend to be blandly inoffensive, especially those dealing with sensitive topics. Typically, a velvet-voiced narrator sets the scene and a sympathetic interviewer lobs questions to her subjects as gently upbeat music plays in the background. By that measure, New York-based documentary director ...

Breaking into and out of Japanese show biz

Feb 17, 2016

Breaking into and out of Japanese show biz

Eiji Uchida’s scabrous new comedy about the struggles of a down-and-out indie film director, “Lowlife Love” (“Gesu no Ai”), confirms what I have known for years: Japanese show business can be brutal to the weak or clueless. They end up used and discarded, like ...

'The Shell Collector' wields a healing kind of poison

Feb 17, 2016

'The Shell Collector' wields a healing kind of poison

In English, you usually don’t want to be compared to marine life. “Cold fish,” “shark” and “whale” are not often intended as compliments, and “come out of your shell” is commonly addressed to the anti-social. Japanese have a somewhat different take on the undersea ...

Grim universe of horror manga 'Litchi Hikari Club'

Feb 10, 2016

Grim universe of horror manga 'Litchi Hikari Club'

When I was 13, I belonged to a neighborhood gang called, ironically, “The Hoods.” We committed minor acts of vandalism as a sort of game and talked about invading the turf of a rival gang a few blocks over (but never got around to ...

The 11th edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival

| Feb 10, 2016

The 11th edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival

Tokyo tends to suck up all the media oxygen when it comes to film festivals and events in this country, but there’s plenty going on beyond the capital’s borders, as evidenced by the Osaka Asian Film Festival. The 11th edition of the festival, unspooling ...