The Inland Sea

Aug 2, 2014

The Inland Sea

In his lifetime, Donald Richie was best known as a pioneering expert on Japanese cinema; he famously first brought the films of Yasujiro Ozu to the attention of the West, as well as writing the trailblazing “The Japanese Film: Art and Industry” with fellow ...

Lost in a dingy maze of booze, sex and crime

Jul 30, 2014

Lost in a dingy maze of booze, sex and crime

Golden-gai, a warren of tiny bars near Shinjuku’s Kabukicho entertainment district, has long been a refuge for writers, musicians, filmmakers and other artistic types, who congregate at drinking establishments with like-minded patrons. The area also has a seedier, less reputable side, which is graphically ...

Yurusarezarumono (Unforgiven)

Jul 30, 2014

Yurusarezarumono (Unforgiven)

Director: Lee Sang-il Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) When Lee Sang-il, responsible for the critically acclaimed hit “Akunin (Villian)” in 2010, remade the 1992 Clint Eastwood Western “Unforgiven” I was expecting a fresh interpretation from this talented director. Instead this drama about a former ...

R-18 to G: Are pink films losing their potency?

Jul 30, 2014

R-18 to G: Are pink films losing their potency?

Yuji Tajiri and Shinji Imaoka were two of the “Seven Lucky Gods of Pink” — a group of young pinku eiga (erotic film) directors who were hailed as the genre’s hope after they rose to prominence in the 1990s and early 2000s. That hope ...

Love beyond the realms of erotic cinema

Jul 23, 2014

Love beyond the realms of erotic cinema

The varieties of love are many: From the chaste and platonic, to the sexually uninhibited and emotionally obsessed. In a long career as a pinku eiga (pink film) director Yuji Tajiri has concentrated on the latter end of the scale, but in his latest ...

New Directors From Japan

Jul 23, 2014

New Directors From Japan

Directors: Nagisa Isogai, Hirobumi Watanabe, Kosuke Takaya Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This innovative project from Third Window Films has been successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter. The DVD/Blu-ray package will include four films by three new Japanese directors and having seen films by Nagisa Isogai ...

The man who lives for the art of dying

Jul 16, 2014

The man who lives for the art of dying

Interviewing Seizo Fukumoto, the star of Ken Ochiai’s backstage drama “Uzumasa Limelight,” I wished I had brought a video camera, instead of my voice recorder and notepad. As he talks, this veteran kirare-yaku — an actor whose forte is being cut down with a ...

Reflections on the dark side of a tropical island

Jul 16, 2014

Reflections on the dark side of a tropical island

Naomi Kawase was once Japan’s best-known female director abroad; now she is one of its most internationally prominent directors, regardless of gender. This change is largely due to her long association with the Cannes film festival, where her first fiction feature, “Moe no Suzaku ...

Judge!

Jul 16, 2014

Judge!

Director: Akira Nagai Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Scripted by Yoshimitsu Sawamoto and directed by Akira Nagai — both insiders in Japan’s advertising business — “Judge!” stars Satoshi Tsumabuki as an entry-level adman drafted to impersonate his boss on a TV CM awards jury ...

'Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)'

Jul 9, 2014

'Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)'

Since its start nearly three decades ago, Studio Ghibli has been dominated by the creativity of co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. But since the turn of the millennium, five of its 10 feature films have been made by other, younger directors. One reason ...