The delicate notes of 'Someone's Xylophone'

Sep 7, 2016

The delicate notes of 'Someone's Xylophone'

Japanese directors now routinely do dozens of media interviews to publicize their new films, especially if they are on the indie end of the spectrum. The stars of said films also sit down with the press, if not as commonly, but though I have ...

'Karate Kill': Kick back to a good old action film

Sep 7, 2016

'Karate Kill': Kick back to a good old action film

Back in the 1990s, a British trade magazine sent me to Los Angeles every November to report on the American Film Market — then mostly an emporium of cheapo genre films, held at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. It was the heyday of the ...

| Sep 7, 2016

The Yufuin Film Festival: a movie paradise on Earth

Before attending my first Yufuin Film Festival, which was held Aug. 24-28 this year, I wondered what attracted Japanese film folk — from nationally known actors to directors of zero-budget documentaries — to this town in northern Kyushu. One obvious draw is Yufuin’s upscale ...

'Your name.': Makoto Shinkai could be the next big name in anime

Aug 31, 2016

'Your name.': Makoto Shinkai could be the next big name in anime

Japanese animators have good reason to hate the label “new Miyazaki,” meaning successor to animation genius Hayao Miyazaki, who retired from feature filmmaking in 2013. First, it saddles them with fan expectations that their films will resemble — or imitate — the master’s. Second, ...

'Black Widow Business': Never too old for the marriage con

Aug 24, 2016

'Black Widow Business': Never too old for the marriage con

“There’s no fool like an old fool.” Yasuo Tsuruhashi’s comedy “Black Widow Business” is a feature-length illustration of this venerable saying, though it also reflects present-day trends in an aging Japan. The “fools” in question are the graying Lotharios who fall for the middle-aged ...

'Yell For the Blue Sky': High school drama never really changes

Aug 17, 2016

'Yell For the Blue Sky': High school drama never really changes

The seishun eiga or “youth film” is one Japanese genre that doesn’t travel well abroad. With only a few exceptions, these films assume a familiarity with the insular world of the Japanese high school (or, once in a while, junior high school) that outlanders ...

'Rudolph the Black Cat': Curiosity helps this little black cat

Aug 10, 2016

'Rudolph the Black Cat': Curiosity helps this little black cat

Many Japanese films for kids are entries in venerable anime series belonging to multiplatform franchises. To their target audience they are pre-sold and, in their formulas, pre-seen. And that audience is by and large domestic. One big exception is “Stand By Me Doraemon,” a ...

Momoi is on fire in her new indie film 'Hee'

Aug 3, 2016

Momoi is on fire in her new indie film 'Hee'

In her four-decade acting career Kaori Momoi has always been a free-spirited stand-out, indifferent to convention. But beneath her easygoing attitude and signature drawling delivery (which used to make me wonder what she had been ingesting before the cameras started rolling) was a thorough ...