J-horror master Yoshihiro Nakamura returns to form

Jan 20, 2016

J-horror master Yoshihiro Nakamura returns to form

Yoshihiro Nakamura entered the film world on a well-trodden path. After making 8 mm films while studying at Tokyo’s Seijo University and winning a prize at the 1993 Pia Film Festival — a famous incubator for young Japanese filmmakers — he worked as an ...

Ghosts go hunting for the living in 'The Inerasable'

Jan 20, 2016

Ghosts go hunting for the living in 'The Inerasable'

Have you ever walked down a corridor or into a room in the dead of night with your heart beating and your skin crawling? Something spooks you, for reasons that — in the clear light of day — seem to have to nothing to ...

Pink and Gray not just an idol film

Jan 13, 2016

Pink and Gray not just an idol film

No one likes spoilers, right? But in some films a major plot twist comes so early that the choice is to either mention it or write an entire review consisting of little more than winks and nods. For example, in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s “Exchange Students” ...

Wrestling with Japan's physically challenged, literally

Jan 6, 2016

Wrestling with Japan's physically challenged, literally

In 1994, I reviewed “Invincible Handicap” (“Muteki no Handicap”), a documentary by scriptwriter and filmmaker Daisuke Tengan about a professional wrestling group called Doglegs whose members were both physically challenged men and able-bodied volunteers. Started in 1991, the Doglegs hardly fit the template of ...

'Their Distance' explores the pain of being young and in love

Dec 30, 2015

'Their Distance' explores the pain of being young and in love

‘Honesty,” Billy Joel famously lamented in song, “is hardly ever heard.” The characters of Rikiya Imaizumi’s ensemble drama “Their Distance” (“Shiranai, Futari”) seem to have been listening: They are honest to a fault with each other about their feelings, even ones that hurt their ...

Top 10 films of 2015: War, slackers and a love hotel

Dec 23, 2015

Top 10 films of 2015: War, slackers and a love hotel

It’s hard to be an optimist about the present state of Japanese cinema. One reason is the decline of the mid-budget film, previously the refuge of much quality work, with many talented directors going either fully commercial or extremely indie. Micro-budget films are not ...

Kiki Sugino: 'I'm always looking for myself'

Dec 16, 2015

Kiki Sugino: 'I'm always looking for myself'

Kiki Sugino has a one-of-a-kind resume in the domestic movie business. Many are the young “multi-talents” who act, sing and model, but most are recruited, molded and marketed by an agency. From the start, this 31-year-old actor, director and producer took a more independent ...