Is Japanese cinema sinking into a self-censorship swamp?

Feb 11, 2015

Is Japanese cinema sinking into a self-censorship swamp?

One great thing about living in Japan is the consideration, or omoiyari, people here commonly show for others. My newspaper delivery guy climbs the 25 steps to my front door and deposits a copy of The Japan Times in my mailbox every morning, rain ...

Misono Universe: Screaming from the gutter to the stars

Feb 11, 2015

Misono Universe: Screaming from the gutter to the stars

Amnesia is one of those medical conditions that might have been invented for the movies. For scriptwriters, it’s a godsend — one bump on the hero’s head and the story is rolling. What the movies usually don’t get right are the real-life consequences of ...

Bokutachi no Kazoku (Our Family)

Feb 11, 2015

Bokutachi no Kazoku (Our Family)

Director: Yuya Ishii Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Yuya Ishii’s follow-up to his much-lauded 2013 drama “Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)” is in the same serious humanistic vein — and again contrasts with the 31-year-old director’s raucous, blackly comic earlier work. The story ...

Present For You: Baffling but pioneering stop-motion film

Feb 4, 2015

Present For You: Baffling but pioneering stop-motion film

Stop-motion animation, in which objects are photographed frame by frame to achieve the illusion of motion, is nearly as old as the movies. But as recent films by Nick Park (“Chicken Run”), Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Tim Burton (“Frankenweenie”) and Wes Anderson ...

Back to the love hotel for ex-pink film director

Jan 28, 2015

Back to the love hotel for ex-pink film director

Interviews with people you know well can turn awkward if you try to be the probing questioner instead of the coffee-shop companion. No such worries with 61-year-old Ryuichi Hiroki, the former pink film (i.e., soft pornography) director who made his commercial and critical breakthrough ...

Killers

Jan 28, 2015

Killers

Directors: Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel Language: Japanese, Indonesian, English (subtitles in English) Cross-border cooperation takes on a bizarre new twist in this Indonesian thriller starring Kazuki Kitamura as a slick businessman turned sick serial killer. His online snuff videos attract the attention of an ...

Sayonara Kabukicho: Life and love in Shinjuku's red-light district

Jan 21, 2015

Sayonara Kabukicho: Life and love in Shinjuku's red-light district

Ryuichi Hiroki has become a victim of his own success, though his studio employers probably don’t see it that way. This one-time maker of so-called pink films (i.e., soft pornography), who became internationally celebrated for intimate indie dramas like “Vibrator” from 2003 and “Yawarakai ...

Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu — Three Crime Dramas

Jan 21, 2015

Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu — Three Crime Dramas

Director: Yasujiro Ozu Language: Japanese (subtitles in English) Best known abroad for his postwar family dramas, Yasujiro Ozu was, in reality, a more diverse filmmaker, especially in his early silent period. Criterion has put together a box set of three Ozu crime dramas from ...

A longer look at the problems of 'Unbroken'

Jan 14, 2015

A longer look at the problems of 'Unbroken'

Why can’t “Unbroken” — Angelina Jolie’s hit World War II drama — catch a break in Japan? There are presently no plans to release the film here in theaters, on DVD or online, even though it has a strong Japan focus as well as ...