'Their Distance' explores the pain of being young and in love

Dec 30, 2015

'Their Distance' explores the pain of being young and in love

‘Honesty,” Billy Joel famously lamented in song, “is hardly ever heard.” The characters of Rikiya Imaizumi’s ensemble drama “Their Distance” (“Shiranai, Futari”) seem to have been listening: They are honest to a fault with each other about their feelings, even ones that hurt their ...

Top 10 films of 2015: War, slackers and a love hotel

Dec 23, 2015

Top 10 films of 2015: War, slackers and a love hotel

It’s hard to be an optimist about the present state of Japanese cinema. One reason is the decline of the mid-budget film, previously the refuge of much quality work, with many talented directors going either fully commercial or extremely indie. Micro-budget films are not ...

Kiki Sugino: 'I'm always looking for myself'

Dec 16, 2015

Kiki Sugino: 'I'm always looking for myself'

Kiki Sugino has a one-of-a-kind resume in the domestic movie business. Many are the young “multi-talents” who act, sing and model, but most are recruited, molded and marketed by an agency. From the start, this 31-year-old actor, director and producer took a more independent ...

Family comedy 'Her Father, My Lover' is dark and absurd

Dec 16, 2015

Family comedy 'Her Father, My Lover' is dark and absurd

“Love is strange,” goes the song. But aren’t lovers stranger? Maybe not you, but what about your middle-aged pal, besotted with a girl young enough to be his daughter? What could he be thinking? And “strange” is no longer the descriptor many would use. ...

Domestic film industry focuses inwards at its own peril

Dec 9, 2015

Domestic film industry focuses inwards at its own peril

The Japanese film industry released 615 films last year, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. That figure may include glorified student productions and dressed-up pornography, but is still substantial by any measure. Relatively few of those films, however, are sold abroad. ...

'Persona Non Grata' a dramatic nod to Sugihara's legacy

Dec 2, 2015

'Persona Non Grata' a dramatic nod to Sugihara's legacy

Refugees are much in the news now, though the U.S. media commonly refers to the Syrians struggling to enter Europe as “migrants.” The reason: Together with genuine refugees fleeing from slaughter are so-called economic migrants seeking a better life in the West — and ...

Hideo Nakata's 'Ghost Theater' recalls true horror

Nov 25, 2015

Hideo Nakata's 'Ghost Theater' recalls true horror

A decade or so ago, J-horror (Japanese horror) was a hot genre worldwide. Thinking they had a sure-fire box-office formula — implacable ghosts scaring the bejesus out of attractive women — filmmakers mass-produced sequels, spinoffs and knock-offs, to mostly diminishing returns. The career of ...