| Dec 3, 2010

Higashi gets melodramatic (but not too much)

by Mark Schilling

Born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1934, Yoichi Higashi graduated from Waseda University’s Department of Literature in 1958 and entered Iwanami Film Production, a documentary and educational film company. After making his feature debut with “Okinawa Retto (Okinawa Archipelago)” in 1969, he won the Directors ...

DiCillo opens the doors

| Oct 29, 2010

DiCillo opens the doors

by Giovanni Fazio

Tom DiCillo is a stubbornly independent director whose career began as a cameraman on Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise” (1984). With films like “Johnny Suede” (1991) and “Living In Oblivion” (1995), DiCillo worked with such rising stars as Brad Pitt, Steve Buscemi and Catherine ...

First-time director takes on Murakami

| Oct 22, 2010

First-time director takes on Murakami

by Kaori Shoji

Many filmmakers say the difficulties of adapting a best-selling novel to the screen can be daunting. How about the challenge of adapting a story by a foreign best-selling author (“All God’s Children Can Dance” by Haruki Murakami) from a country one had never visited ...

Lopez-Curval tells moving motherly tale

| Oct 15, 2010

Lopez-Curval tells moving motherly tale

by Kaori Shoji

“Meres et Filles” (released in Japan as “Kakusareta Nikki)” is a film about women. But contrary to expectations, it’s not a celebration of womanhood. Director Julie Lopez-Curval (working from a script by Sophie Hiet) is more concerned with the telltale details of women’s lives: ...

There's always a missing piece

| Apr 2, 2010

There's always a missing piece

by Mark Schilling

The daughter of actor/director Eiji Okuda and sister of actress Sakura Ando, 28-year-old Momoko Ando has a deeply international background, including a nine-year stay in Britain, as well as thorough fluency in English. In person she was also articulate, straightforward, and gracious enough to ...

Yazaki opens up about 'Lies'

| Mar 12, 2010

Yazaki opens up about 'Lies'

by Mark Schilling

A leader of Japanese cinema’s 1990s New Wave, Hitoshi Yazaki dropped off the radar for more than a decade, returning in 2006 with “Strawberry Shortcakes,” a widely praised drama about four lonely women in search of, not just a partner, but reasons for living. ...

| Feb 19, 2010

An ace in arcane animation

by Giovanni Fazio

Stop-motion animation is an arcane art with an ever- diminishing number of practitioners, but director Henry Selick has taken it to an insane level of finesse and sophistication. Selick worked his way up the ranks, doing storyboards and character animation at Disney before moving ...

Hunting for strength

| Jan 22, 2010

Hunting for strength

by Kaori Shoji

Quentin Tarantino pushed for “Frozen River” as the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival two years back and was effusive in his praise. At first glance the film is as far from Tarantino turf as Alaska is from Tahiti, ...

Downtown Tokyo's fiery love

| Oct 30, 2009

Downtown Tokyo's fiery love

by Simon Bartz

“Deep in the Valley,” which was made in downtown Tokyo and appears to have had a budget of ¥5 plus, probably, a box of persimmons for all involved (random gifts are very downtown), is an accident. And I mean that in a good, romantic ...