'Sad Tea'

Jun 5, 2014

'Sad Tea'

Ensemble dramas about the ups and downs of love, and its various substitutes, are popular now — at least with indie filmmakers. (A contrast to Japan’s commercial romantic dramas, which still focus on star-crossed couples, one of whom is usually dead by the closing ...

'Koroshi no Rakuin (Branded to Kill)'

Jun 5, 2014

'Koroshi no Rakuin (Branded to Kill)'

Director: Seijun Suzuki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Seijun Suzuki’s notorious 1967 cult-favorite film, “Koroshi no Rakuin (Branded to Kill)” may have a genre-standard plot — a hit man (Jo Shishido) bungles a job and has to go on the run — but it ...

Photo series charts the family unit in changing Japan

May 30, 2014

Photo series charts the family unit in changing Japan

Family photos in Japan, especially ones taken for formal occasions such as shichi-go-san (seven-five-three) ceremonies, are often as stiffly posed as 19th-century tintypes, with Mom, Dad and Junior never cracking a smile. When American photographer Bruce Osborn began taking photos of parents and children ...

Short-film festival offers flicks for free

May 29, 2014

Short-film festival offers flicks for free

Short films are today both everywhere but nowhere, even for many who consider themselves film fans. With digital cameras and other filmmaking gear becoming ever more affordable, the number of short films in every genre is exploding. But little of this huge output plays ...

Godfather of J-horror escapes from genre's grip

May 28, 2014

Godfather of J-horror escapes from genre's grip

Hideo Nakata could be called the godfather of contemporary Japanese horror, but he would probably hate the label. Regardless, this 52-year-old director of such genre classics as “Ring,” “Ring 2″ and “Honogurai Mizu no Soko kara (Dark Water)” has made J-horror — a combination ...

'Monsterz'

May 28, 2014

'Monsterz'

Hollywood has been remaking Asian films for a long time now, but over the past decade Korean movies have become the focus of remakers attention. One reason is that hit Korean films are often based on the sort of “high concepts” (easy-to-grasp premises) that ...

Godzilla: the monster with multiple personalities

May 22, 2014

Godzilla: the monster with multiple personalities

“Godzilla” was the first Japanese movie I saw. It was also the first for many other American baby boomers, though we did not view Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original, but a version that had been heavily edited and dubbed for the U.S. market, with additional ...

'Oh! Father'

May 22, 2014

'Oh! Father'

Japanese mystery writers have long supplied fodder for TV shows and films, but mysteries of the puzzle-plot sort have reached a saturation point. Or maybe it’s just me, fed up with stories that turn on such vital questions as — in the immortal words ...

'Yume to Kyoki no Ohkoku (The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness)'

May 22, 2014

'Yume to Kyoki no Ohkoku (The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness)'

Director: Mami Sunada Language: Japanese (subtitles in English) Award-winning documentarian Mami Sunada focuses on the production of two recent animated hits by Ghibli — Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)” and Isao Takahata’s “Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)” — as ...