Mujin Chitai (No Man's Zone)

Mar 4, 2015

Mujin Chitai (No Man's Zone)

Director: Toshi Fujiwara Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) As the anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown of March 11, 2011, approaches, Toshi Fujiwara’s documentary is a useful reminder of what the Tohoku region suffered. With actress Arsinee Khanjian’s solemnly intoning commentary, ...

Japan's Academy Prizes — the fix is in?

Feb 25, 2015

Japan's Academy Prizes — the fix is in?

Comedian, actor and director Takeshi Kitano had some scathing things to say about the Japanese film industry at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, where he was given a career achievement award. One target he singled out was the Japan Academy Prizes — the ...

Waking up and smelling the roasted coffee

Feb 25, 2015

Waking up and smelling the roasted coffee

Thomas Wolfe’s posthumous novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” was published in 1940, and critics and readers have been debating the truth of its title ever since. Wolfe himself had no doubt: His autobiographical writings, with their biting, thinly disguised portraits, made him persona ...

Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)

Feb 25, 2015

Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)

Director: Isao Takahata Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Isao Takahata’s 2013 animation, based on a 10th-century folk tale about the tragic earthly life of a princess from the moon, may not have won the best animated feature Oscar, but it is a masterpiece of ...

Kinoshita and World War II

Feb 18, 2015

Kinoshita and World War II

Director: Keisuke Kinoshita Language: Japanese (subtitles in English) Criterion’s new box set of five early Keisuke Kinoshita films from the 1940s includes four wartime morale-boosters and the postwar drama “Osone-ke no Ashita (Morning for the Osone Family).” But Kinoshita’s deep humanism made these films ...

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 ...