Fatal Frame: Mari Asato's uncanny, ghostly dopplegangers

Sep 24, 2014

Fatal Frame: Mari Asato's uncanny, ghostly dopplegangers

Japanese horror movies have various ways of making you squirm, shiver or watch the screen through your fingers. But sooner or later most scares of the spook-house variety become annoying. How many more times do I want to see a ghostly hand surging from ...

Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Sep 24, 2014

Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Directors: Yasuharu Hasebe, Toshiya FujitaLanguage: Japanese (subtitled in English) Made by the Nikkatsu studio in the early 1970s in emulation of the violent and sexy exploitation films drawing audiences in the U.S., the five “Stray Cat Rock” films feature Kaji Meiko as a glowering ...

'My Fair Lady' wrapped in a geisha's kimono

Sep 17, 2014

'My Fair Lady' wrapped in a geisha's kimono

The musical used to be among the rarest of Japanese film genres. Plenty of films here — going back to the early talkies — featured singing and dancing, but Broadway-style musicals, which integrate the songs into the story, never really caught on. Is a ...

HK Hentai Kamen (HK: Forbidden  Super Hero)

Sep 17, 2014

HK Hentai Kamen (HK: Forbidden Super Hero)

Director: Yuichi Fukuda Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Yuichi Fukuda’s adaptation of a 1992-93 Keishu Ando manga is a goofy comedy/action film with a sense of humor that comes straight from the ickier corners of the adolescent male mind. A high school boy (Ryohei ...

Low City, High City

| Sep 13, 2014

Low City, High City

Best known for his translations of “The Tale of Genji” and the fiction of Yasunari Kawabata, for which the author won a Nobel Prize, Edward G. Seidensticker was also an accomplished essayist and historian. Low City, High City, by Edward G. Seidensticker.KNOPF, Nonfiction. The ...

Little Forest: Natsu/Aki (Little Forest: Summer/Autumn)

Sep 10, 2014

Little Forest: Natsu/Aki (Little Forest: Summer/Autumn)

Japanese food culture might be ancient, but Japan’s obsession with food in pop culture is relatively recent. The “gourmet boom” of the bubble-era 1980s — when Japanese had more money and leisure to dine in style, rather than simply fill their stomachs — was ...

Aku no Kyoten (Lesson of Evil)

Sep 10, 2014

Aku no Kyoten (Lesson of Evil)

Director: Takashi Miike Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Released in 2012 — when mass shootings by deranged killers were making headlines around the world — Takashi Miike’s film about a charismatic but violently psychotic teacher (Hideaki Ito) who finally takes a shotgun to his ...

A quarter century of Japanese films in review

Sep 3, 2014

A quarter century of Japanese films in review

In 25 years of reviewing Japanese films and interviewing Japanese filmmakers for this newspaper, I’ve written 1 million words, give or take a few. This is clearly something no normal person would do, but for me it beats working. The idea that writing about ...

Sake-Bomb

Sep 3, 2014

Sake-Bomb

Director: Junya Sakino Language: English, Japanese (subtitled in English) In Junya Sakino’s road movie “Sake-Bomb,” the excellent Gaku Hamada stars as an unworldly successor to a sake brewery who travels to Los Angeles to seek out an old flame, with his sarcastic, fast-talking American ...