Young Japanese filmmaker's dystopian dream

May 8, 2014

Young Japanese filmmaker's dystopian dream

Several years ago, a film project of mine was selected for J-Pitch, a government-backed initiative that introduces new filmmakers to veteran producers outside Japan, in the hope (in my case, a faint hope) that they will co-produce an original film. At a J-Pitch seminar ...

'Momose, Kocchi wo Muite (My Pretend Girlfriend)'

May 8, 2014

'Momose, Kocchi wo Muite (My Pretend Girlfriend)'

First love, or hatsukoi, is a big topic in Japanese teen films, as well as almost everywhere else in popular culture. It’s attractive because of its innocence and purity, as well as the almost inevitable fleetingness of the relationship — if indeed, it is ...

'Gomennasai (Ring of Curse)'

May 8, 2014

'Gomennasai (Ring of Curse)'

Director: Mari Asato Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Mari Asato’s 2011 “Gomennasai (Ring of Curse)” stars three members of the idol group Buono! It begins with a standard-issue “bully the strange girl in class” story line, but takes a scarily fresh turn when the ...

'Live'

May 1, 2014

'Live'

When I was 12 I thought the movie parodies in “Mad” magazine were hilarious. Now I suppose I’m harder to please — or just older — but parodies that self-consciously mock their source, while cutely paying homage to it, quickly put me in a ...

'Soshite Chichi ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son)'

May 1, 2014

'Soshite Chichi ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son)'

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Based on a true story, Hirokazu Koreeda’s 2013 drama tells the heart-wrenching story of a well-off couple whose son was switched at birth with another boy and raised by a poor but happy family. The perfectionist ...

'Soko Nomi Nite Hikari Kagayaku (The Light Shines Only There)'

Apr 24, 2014

'Soko Nomi Nite Hikari Kagayaku (The Light Shines Only There)'

Japan’s image overseas might have a funhouse aspect, but even many outlanders who live here only get a selective view of the place, since their Japanese colleagues and friends mostly come from the educated, middle-class stratum of society and live more or less stable, ...

'Yokomichi Yonosuke Monogatari (The Story Of Yonosuke)'

Apr 24, 2014

'Yokomichi Yonosuke Monogatari (The Story Of Yonosuke)'

Director: Shuichi Okita Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) An unconventional drama about a bumpkin (Kengo Kora) in Tokyo during the 1980s, who though persistence and sweet obliviousness befriends a spoiled rich girl (Yuriko Yoshitaka) who elevates him from pet to boyfriend. The film is ...

'Thermae Romae II'

Apr 17, 2014

'Thermae Romae II'

Hideki Takeuchi’s “Thermae Romae” — literally “Roman Bath” — was 2012′s surprise box office smash in Japan, earning nearly ¥6 billion, the second-highest that year. Based on Mari Yamazaki’s hit manga, the film was about a bathhouse architect named Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) in ancient ...

'Hidamari No Kanojo' (Girl in the Sunny Place)

Apr 17, 2014

'Hidamari No Kanojo' (Girl in the Sunny Place)

Director: Takahiro Miki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) In Takahiro Miki’s romantic drama, a shy salesman (Jun Matsumoto) reconnects with a former junior high classmate (Juri Ueno) who is now a successful businesswoman. He falls for her, but she has a secret that turns ...