'Sanbun no Ichi (One Third)'

Apr 3, 2014

'Sanbun no Ichi (One Third)'

Caper movies have their conventions, one being that the crook anti-heroes may get to run their fingers through their loot, but they hardly ever get to keep it. The prototype is Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956), in which elaborate planning and clockwork execution pay ...

'Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (The After-Dinner Mysteries)'

Apr 3, 2014

'Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (The After-Dinner Mysteries)'

Director: Hijikata Masato, Ishikawa Junichi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Hijikata Masato’s murder mystery, set on a cruise ship bound for Singapore, is based on a popular TV series about a ditzy heiress-turned-detective (Keiko Kitagawa) and her smooth, know-it-all butler (Sho Sakurai). Cartoonish murder ...

Trial by media, conviction by word of mouth

Mar 27, 2014

Trial by media, conviction by word of mouth

Yoshihiro Nakamura makes movies that puzzle, surprise and illuminate their themes both cleverly and literally (the fireworks of “Golden Slumber,” the comet of “Fish Story”). Everyone’s heard of the “butterfly effect” — how a small action in one place (a butterfly flapping its wings ...

'Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken (The Snow White Murder Case)'

Mar 27, 2014

'Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken (The Snow White Murder Case)'

The Japanese are big fans of mysteries of the puzzle-plot sort, with murders committed in the kinds of odd and ingenious ways that real killers seldom use. The detective hero not only cracks the case, but delivers a detailed postmortem to an appreciative audience, ...

'Kashikoi Inu wa Hoezu ni Warau (Shady)'

Mar 27, 2014

'Kashikoi Inu wa Hoezu ni Warau (Shady)'

Director: Ryohei Watanabe Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Ryohei Watanabe’s debut feature about two unpopular high school girls who become fast friends won prizes at home and was acclaimed at Britain’s Raindance Film Festival. The subbed DVD release there by Third Window Films of ...

Okinawa film fest gives fans an up-close view of the stars

Mar 27, 2014

Okinawa film fest gives fans an up-close view of the stars

Why go to Okinawa for movies? For anyone familiar with the international festival circuit, especially at its higher, artier end, the Okinawa International Movie Festival may well prompt this question — and a negative answer. “It’s not a real film festival!” a fellow foreign ...

'Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking With a Friend)'

Mar 20, 2014

'Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking With a Friend)'

Akira Ogata’s “Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking with a Friend),” which screened in the Japanese Cinema Splash section of last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, is one of many recent Japanese films about the problems of the elderly in this rapidly graying country. Unlike nearly ...

Kaidan Nobori Ryu (Blind Woman's Curse)

Mar 20, 2014

Kaidan Nobori Ryu (Blind Woman's Curse)

Director: Teruo Ishii Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Meiko Kaji, the doyenne of 1970s exploitation pics, is at her glowering, slashing best in Teruo Ishii’s 1970 actioner as the leader of an Edo Period yakuza gang who must fight not only her opponents but ...

'Idai Naru, Shurara-bon (The Great Shurara-bon)'

Mar 13, 2014

'Idai Naru, Shurara-bon (The Great Shurara-bon)'

Superheroes by definition have super powers. In Japan, instead of leaping tall buildings with a single bound, these heroes often shoot energy projectiles from their hands — easy and effective, save when your opponent has more wattage. This may seem childish, but it can ...

Kids Return: Saikai no Toki (Kids Return: The Reunion)

Mar 13, 2014

Kids Return: Saikai no Toki (Kids Return: The Reunion)

Director: Hiroshi Shimizu Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) A followup to Takeshi Kitano’s 1996 coming-of-age film “Kids Return,” this 2013 drama by Kitano disciple Hiroshi Shimizu unfolds as its two rebellious protagonists are now facing 30. Shimizu has some of his mentor’s stylistic mannerisms, ...