Film Topics

'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 ...

'Self/Less': Losing oneself in the narrative

Aug 31, 2016

'Self/Less': Losing oneself in the narrative

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The age of excessive high-tech is a good time to be filthy rich, especially if you happen to be an entitled scoundrel whose level of wealth-fueled egomania makes Scrooge look like a benevolent fuddy-duddy. In “Self/Less,” Ben Kingsley as New York real estate mogul ...

'Gods of Egypt': What an ungodly mess

Aug 31, 2016

'Gods of Egypt': What an ungodly mess

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In the latest issue of Kinema Junpo, Japan’s most venerable film magazine, you can read a lengthy tribute to Gaga, the dogged independent movie distributor that’s marking its 30th anniversary this year. The occasion is certainly worth commemorating: This is the company that released ...

'Black Widow Business': Never too old for the marriage con

Aug 24, 2016

'Black Widow Business': Never too old for the marriage con

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“There’s no fool like an old fool.” Yasuo Tsuruhashi’s comedy “Black Widow Business” is a feature-length illustration of this venerable saying, though it also reflects present-day trends in an aging Japan. The “fools” in question are the graying Lotharios who fall for the middle-aged ...

'Lights Out': A cliched glow in the dark

Aug 24, 2016

'Lights Out': A cliched glow in the dark

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Being afraid of the dark is a familiar childhood anxiety that has exploited in terrifying proportions in the horror genre. “Lights Out” knows how to cash in on the panic that can assail the mind when the lights go out. Bad things happen in ...