Film Topics

'Harmonium': Dangerously good family drama

Sep 28, 2016

'Harmonium': Dangerously good family drama

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The films of Koji Fukada have long wrapped ambitious themes in deceptively unassuming genre packages. His 2011 international breakout “Hospitalite” (“Kantai”) begins as a quirky comedy but becomes a sharp-edged drama of deceptions and secrets. Last year’s “Sayonara” starts as an offbeat essay in ...

'Sully': Ditching the plane to save lives

Sep 28, 2016

'Sully': Ditching the plane to save lives

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For a while I thought Harrison Ford should run for U.S. president, but now I’m convinced Tom Hanks is the one, with Clint Eastwood as secretary of state. The two have teamed up for “Sully” (Eastwood directing and Hanks as the titular character), the ...

'Scoop!': Read all about it here

Sep 21, 2016

'Scoop!': Read all about it here

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Japanese weekly scandal magazines are pond scum, are they not? Dishing up grainy paparazzi photos of the famous and powerful, accompanied by wink-wink stories about improprieties and crimes — alleged or exposed — they appeal to the lowest common denominator, with their only raison ...

'Someone's Xylophone': Yoichi Higashi hits an unusual tone

Sep 14, 2016

'Someone's Xylophone': Yoichi Higashi hits an unusual tone

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Yoichi Higashi has made everything from commercial hits to festival favorites in his five-plus decades as a director, while taking up politically sensitive subjects and unpopular issues. His 1992 smash “The Bridge with No River” (“Hashi no Nai Kawa”) depicted the raw prejudice endured ...

'The BFG': With an emphasis on the friendly

Sep 14, 2016

'The BFG': With an emphasis on the friendly

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The Japanese have never really warmed to the stories of Roald Dahl, with the exception of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Even then, they’re probably not thinking of Dahl, it’s more about Johnny Depp and the Wonka Chocolate bars sold at most high-end supermarkets ...

'Bittersweet': A Henry Higgins of vegetarianism

Sep 7, 2016

'Bittersweet': A Henry Higgins of vegetarianism

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The idea of “love” in Japan used to be defined by literature until manga came along and changed the scenery. Now, almost everyone dips into manga to learn the ropes, and often that process starts as early as the first grade. My niece was ...