Our movie highlights of the coming year

Jan 2, 2014

Our movie highlights of the coming year

Another year, another raft of unmissable movies. Here are the most hotly anticipated releases for JT film critics Mark Schilling, Kaori Shoji and Giovanni Fazio — get them in your diary now. “American Hustle” (directed by David O. Russell; opens Jan. 31): After “The ...

'Seventh Code'

Jan 2, 2014

'Seventh Code'

One of the more baffling and maddening aspects of the pop music scene here for a lot of foreign observers, especially those who write about it for the English-language media, is the long-continuing and now overwhelming popularity of girl idol groups, whether or not ...

Mark Schilling's 2013 Top 10: Farewell to Ghibli's anime masters

Dec 26, 2013

Mark Schilling's 2013 Top 10: Farewell to Ghibli's anime masters

Japanese films did quite well both commercially and critically in 2013, with Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature animation, “Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises),” thumping the Hollywood competition at the local box office. But the industry’s over-reliance on sure-thing manga, TV shows and novels for source ...

Second opinion: Our Top 3 films in cross-review

Dec 26, 2013

Second opinion: Our Top 3 films in cross-review

Regular JT film critics Mark Schilling, Kaori Shoji and Giovanni Fazio got together at the Uplink theater/restaurant in Shibuya to talk about each other’s No. 1 films for 2013: “Cloud Atlas” (Fazio), “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Shoji) and “Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The ...

'Mugiko-san to (With Mugiko)'

Dec 26, 2013

'Mugiko-san to (With Mugiko)'

One reason for the lasting popularity of “Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story),” the 1953 Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece about a momentous visit by an elderly couple to their adult children in Tokyo, is that all too many of its viewers can see themselves in the film’s ...

'11.25 Jiketsu no Hi (11.25: The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate)'

Dec 26, 2013

'11.25 Jiketsu no Hi (11.25: The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate)'

Director: Koji Wakamatsu Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) The late Koji Wakamatsu’s 2012 docu-drama focuses on the last days of writer Yukio Mishima before he committed seppuku (ritual suicide) at the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ Ichigaya HQ in 1970. Cheaply produced, with the normally excellent ...

'Matsuri no Uma (The Horses of Fukushima)'

Dec 19, 2013

'Matsuri no Uma (The Horses of Fukushima)'

The earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdowns of March 2011 may have faded from the world’s consciousness, but for many Japanese filmmakers, both young and old, it has been a life- and career-defining event. Documentary makers, especially, have gone north by the dozens to film ...

'Strawberry Night'

Dec 19, 2013

'Strawberry Night'

Director: Yuichi Sato Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) This noirish cop thriller is based on a popular TV drama, which was in turn inspired by Tetsuya Honda’s bestselling crime novels about a tough female detective (Yuko Takeuchi) solving crimes and butting heads with sexist ...

Young, dead and dealing with the consequences

Dec 12, 2013

Young, dead and dealing with the consequences

A veteran director of feature episodes in the classic “Ultraman” tokusatsu (special effects) series, Kazuya Konaka may not be the most obvious choice for a drama about teen suicide, but a look at his filmography, including 1998′s “Nazo no Tenkosei (The Dimension Travelers)” and ...

'Seki Seki Ren Ren (Deep Red Love)'

Dec 12, 2013

'Seki Seki Ren Ren (Deep Red Love)'

Japan’s suicide rate is nearly twice that of the U.S. and three times that of the U.K., with the number of people taking their own lives each year only recently dipping below 30,000. It is also the leading cause of death among Japanese in ...