'Tokyo Nanmin (Refugee in Tokyo)'

Feb 20, 2014

'Tokyo Nanmin (Refugee in Tokyo)'

It can be easy to fall through the cracks of many societies, even one like Japan’s that seems to have a wide safety net, beginning with Mom and Dad. I found out just how easy when I lived on the roof of a student ...

'Manatsu no Houteishiki (Midsummer's Equation)'

Feb 20, 2014

'Manatsu no Houteishiki (Midsummer's Equation)'

Director: Keigo Higashino Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This mystery/thriller stars Masaharu Fukuyama as a brilliant physicist, Manabu Yukawa, who is staying at a seaside inn when another guest is found dead. Yukawa suspects that this apparent accident is a murder, and his search ...

'Iya Monogatari: Oku no Hito (The Tale of Iya)'

Feb 13, 2014

'Iya Monogatari: Oku no Hito (The Tale of Iya)'

Cycling in the mountains near Tokyo, I often have two thoughts: First, I feel sorry for big-city denizens missing all the natural beauty so near. Second, I wonder how the locals can wrest a living from their tiny fields and orchards, perched precariously on ...

'R100'

Feb 6, 2014

'R100'

Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) The hero of comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto’s fourth feature is a sad-sack furniture salesman (Nao Omori) who engages a dodgy company to supply him with dominatrixes of various bizarre and painful specialties at all times of the ...

'Dakishimetai: Shinjitsu no Monogatari (I Just Wanna Hug You)'

Jan 30, 2014

'Dakishimetai: Shinjitsu no Monogatari (I Just Wanna Hug You)'

Of Japanese medical melodramas there is no end. Targeted largely at the female audience, they appear on the lineups of Toho and other major distributors with the regularity of cherry blossoms in April. What’s the attraction? It’s not as though the vast majority of ...

'Kuroyuri Danchi' (The Complex)

Jan 30, 2014

'Kuroyuri Danchi' (The Complex)

Director: Hideo Nakata Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This 2013 shocker by Hideo Nakata stars former AKB48 singer Atsuko Maeda as a young woman who moves into a creepy old danchi (public housing complex) with her family and discovers that her elderly next-door neighbor ...

Actress Nikaido sets her own agenda

Jan 23, 2014

Actress Nikaido sets her own agenda

Many young Japanese film actors start as models or pop stars and then, as they accumulate magazine covers or CD sales, move into TV and films. Many also play versions of themselves again and again on screen, which may suit their fans just fine, ...

'Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House)'

Jan 23, 2014

'Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House)'

Several veterans of Japan’s old studio system are still working, but Yoji Yamada is the only one still directing for the studio he started out with, back in 1954. He has directed 81 films for Shochiku; his extraordinary box-office success with the “Tora-san” series, ...