'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, ...

Live-action Ghibli remake delivers a new Kiki

Mar 6, 2014

Live-action Ghibli remake delivers a new Kiki

When is a remake not a remake? Arguably, Takashi Shimizu’s “Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)” is less a reworking of the Hayao Miyazaki animation classic (which this reviewer praised on this page in 1989) than his own interpretation of the 1985 Eiko Kadono ...

'Ieji (Homeland)'

Mar 6, 2014

'Ieji (Homeland)'

Many documentaries have been made about the nuclear-plant disaster in Fukushima and its aftermath, but relatively few feature films. One reason could be seen in the rough handling local critics gave “Kibo no Kuni (The Land of Hope),” Sion Sono’s 2012 film set in ...

'Ai no Uzu (Love's Whirlpool)'

Feb 27, 2014

'Ai no Uzu (Love's Whirlpool)'

Sex and love — can the twain ever meet? In the world of fūzoku, a euphemism for Japan’s enormous sex industry, that question is usually answered in the negative. In the industry’s lower reaches, sex is regarded as a service to be offered in ...

'Futaba Kara Toku Hanarete (Nuclear Nation)'

Feb 27, 2014

'Futaba Kara Toku Hanarete (Nuclear Nation)'

Director: Atsushi Funahashi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Atsushi Funahashi’s 2012 documentary focuses on the residents of Futaba, a town near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, who were forced to evacuate after 3/11. Funahashi goes behind mass-media images of exploding reactors and ...

Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama

Feb 20, 2014

Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama

Takashi Yamazaki’s World War II drama “Eien no Zero (The Eternal Zero),” whose pilot hero joins the tokkōtai (kamikaze) suicide squadron in the closing days of the war, has soared to the box office heights since its Dec. 21 release. After ranking No. 1 ...

'Tokyo Nanmin (Refugee in Tokyo)'

Feb 20, 2014

'Tokyo Nanmin (Refugee in Tokyo)'

It can be easy to fall through the cracks of many societies, even one like Japan’s that seems to have a wide safety net, beginning with Mom and Dad. I found out just how easy when I lived on the roof of a student ...