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 ...

Kohei Oguri's 'Foujita' struggles to win over foreign audiences

Nov 18, 2015

Kohei Oguri's 'Foujita' struggles to win over foreign audiences

Veteran auteur Kohei Oguri’s first film in 10 years, “Foujita” is a biopic of artist Tsuguharu “Leonard” Foujita. The toast of prewar Paris for his elegantly drawn women and cats, Foujita radically switched styles on his return to a militarized Japan and his propaganda ...

Fukada's 'Sayonara' captures android intimacy

Nov 18, 2015

Fukada's 'Sayonara' captures android intimacy

‘We all die alone” is a thought voiced by the famous (Hunter S. Thompson and Orson Welles among them), but it seems to state the obvious. We also all have toothaches alone, do we not? In Koji Fukada’s “Sayonara” a terminally ill young woman ...

Ryosuke Hashiguchi's inspired drama about love and loss

Nov 11, 2015

Ryosuke Hashiguchi's inspired drama about love and loss

Watching recent Japanese films, I often have the feeling that their makers need an imagination injection, or simply need to get out more. It’s not just that few, especially at the commercial end of the spectrum, work from original scripts. Plenty of great movies ...