Hideaki Anno: emotional deconstructionist

Oct 18, 2014

Hideaki Anno: emotional deconstructionist

With dozens of the renowned filmmaker's works scheduled to be screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival over the next two weeks, we speak to the man behind the 'Evangelion' sci-fi franchise about his apocalyptic influences and prod him on the question that is ...

Two men and a tot make a half-decent film

Oct 15, 2014

Two men and a tot make a half-decent film

When indie directors take a more commercial turn, the usual explanation is the bigger paycheck, but it’s not always so simple. Yuya Ishii’s shift from the raucous films of his early career to the more genteel, mainstream 2013 film “Fune wo Amu (The Great ...

Chisaii Ouchi (The Little House)

Oct 15, 2014

Chisaii Ouchi (The Little House)

Director: Yoji Yamada Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Veteran director Yoji Yamada’s drama about an upper-middle-class family in 1930-40s Tokyo is deeply informed by Yamada’s own acquaintance with the era, from its social mores to its domestic arrangements. Told from the perspective of a ...

Harmonic slips in time, identity and language

Oct 8, 2014

Harmonic slips in time, identity and language

World War II-themed films by elderly Japanese directors with direct experience of the war are not only becoming scarcer, but are also distinctly different from those of younger filmmakers trying to appeal to a mass audience. Kazuo Kuroki’s 2006 film “Kamiya Etsuko no Seishun ...

Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)

Oct 8, 2014

Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)

Director: Takashi Shimizu Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Horror-meister Takashi Shimizu’s live-action film based on same book as of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 animation about a young witch’s apprenticeship attempts a visually and psychologically darker approach than Miyazaki’s classic. But a spirited performance as the ...

Death-row samurai spills ink, not blood

Oct 1, 2014

Death-row samurai spills ink, not blood

Why have samurai movies become so middle-aged and sedate? Starting in the silent days and continuing through their 1950s peak, period films with top-knotted heroes typically featured a big one-against-many finale with flashing swords and the occasional firearm. Especially in the early days, both ...

Fatal Frame: Mari Asato's uncanny, ghostly dopplegangers

Sep 24, 2014

Fatal Frame: Mari Asato's uncanny, ghostly dopplegangers

Japanese horror movies have various ways of making you squirm, shiver or watch the screen through your fingers. But sooner or later most scares of the spook-house variety become annoying. How many more times do I want to see a ghostly hand surging from ...

Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Sep 24, 2014

Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Directors: Yasuharu Hasebe, Toshiya FujitaLanguage: Japanese (subtitled in English) Made by the Nikkatsu studio in the early 1970s in emulation of the violent and sexy exploitation films drawing audiences in the U.S., the five “Stray Cat Rock” films feature Kaji Meiko as a glowering ...

'My Fair Lady' wrapped in a geisha's kimono

Sep 17, 2014

'My Fair Lady' wrapped in a geisha's kimono

The musical used to be among the rarest of Japanese film genres. Plenty of films here — going back to the early talkies — featured singing and dancing, but Broadway-style musicals, which integrate the songs into the story, never really caught on. Is a ...