Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

Jun 22, 2016

Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

Naomi Kawase has always been an outlier in the Japanese film world, if a very successful one. Born and raised in Nara Prefecture, the site of Japan’s ancient capital, she started making documentaries while a student at the Osaka School of Photography in the ...

'Kako: My Sullen Past': Mikiko, the prodigal bomb maker

Jun 22, 2016

'Kako: My Sullen Past': Mikiko, the prodigal bomb maker

Would anyone in Hollywood now green-light a film with a quirky middle-aged heroine whose passion is making and detonating bombs? Especially one with no apologies for her explosive past, human collateral included? I can imagine the tremors at the pitch meeting when someone says ...

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

Jun 15, 2016

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

The title of “Creepy,” the new shocker by horror maestro Kiyoshi Kurosawa, sounds like an in-jokey self-parody. It’s like titling a new Adam Sandler comedy “Goofy” (or if you’re not feeling charitable, “Crappy”). But “Creepy,” which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is ...

'Danchi': The extraordinary everywoman

Jun 1, 2016

'Danchi': The extraordinary everywoman

“Danchi” doesn’t translate easily into English. “Apartment complex” or “housing estate” are only rough equivalents for the thousands of public-housing units thrown up in the postwar boom years to cope with Tokyo’s exploding population. Equipped with running water, flush toilets and other amenities, with ...

'Himeanole': The hairline between good and evil

May 25, 2016

'Himeanole': The hairline between good and evil

The moral universe of most commercial films is simple: The good guys prevail, the bad guys are punished — and we are seldom in doubt as to who is who. But what if the bad guys deserve sympathy, even the ones who commit horrific ...

Koreeda discusses before and 'After the Storm'

May 18, 2016

Koreeda discusses before and 'After the Storm'

I’ve interviewed the director Hirokazu Koreeda several times over the years since we first met at a preview screening of his otherworldly drama “After Life” (“Wonderful Life,” 1999). Then and now his answers to even often-asked questions are always thoughtful and considered. Yes, he ...

'Wolf Girl and Black Prince': The dogged persistence of teen love

May 18, 2016

'Wolf Girl and Black Prince': The dogged persistence of teen love

Girls go for bad, abusive guys, while relegating nice, decent ones to the dreaded “friend zone”: A misogynistic lie or the cold, hard truth? Ryuichi Hiroki’s “Wolf Girl and Black Prince” seems to say the latter, starting with its premise. A naive, socially inept ...

'After the Storm': Koreeda's tempestuous family affairs

May 11, 2016

'After the Storm': Koreeda's tempestuous family affairs

Hirokazu Koreeda has a reputation abroad as the one director of his generation carrying on the humanist tradition of Japanese cinema’s 1950s and ’60s Golden Age. This is not totally off the mark — he often returns to that favorite Golden Age theme, family ...