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The trauma of becoming exceptional

by Kaori Shoji

Long before it won three Oscars and was nominated for best picture, “Whiplash” — about the mesmerizing and often inexplicable relationship between a music student and his demonically obsessive teacher— had created a big stir in Japan. Media darling and California-based film critic Tomohiro Machiyama called it “a masterpiece, and ...

'The Search' for a reprieve from war in Chechnya

Apr 15, 2015

'The Search' for a reprieve from war in Chechnya

by Kaori Shoji

Prestigious film awards are often a kiss of death. After all the commotion and red-carpet moments of glory, the winners may fade away or become the victims of attacks launched by the media. Such is the case with Michel Hazanavicius, who bagged a totally-out-of-left-field ...

Thomas Pynchon meets The Dude in 'Inherent Vice'

Apr 15, 2015

Thomas Pynchon meets The Dude in 'Inherent Vice'

by Giovanni Fazio

“Inherent vice,” a term used in marine insurance law, means anything you can’t avoid: chocolate will melt, glass will shatter and fruit will spoil. For “Inherent Vice” the movie, the thing that can’t be avoided is a comparison to “The Big Lebowski.” Based on ...

Jidaigeki revival?

| Apr 15, 2015

Jidaigeki revival?

by Mark Schilling

The jidaigeki (samurai period drama) genre, whose films and TV series featuring sword-swinging samurai once dominated popular culture here, has long since fallen on hard times. In contrast to its 1950s peak, when jidaigeki accounted for nearly half the films in theaters, the genre ...

How do you cure an allergy to money?

Apr 8, 2015

How do you cure an allergy to money?

by Mark Schilling

When is a “multitalented” person too “multi”? Where is the line between extending your creative energies in new directions and spreading yourself thin? That question occurred to me after seeing the quirky comedy “Jinu yo Saraba: Kamuroba Mura E” (“A Farewell to Jinu”), Suzuki ...

Woody Allen's sweet tooth, polished till it shines

Apr 8, 2015

Woody Allen's sweet tooth, polished till it shines

by Kaori Shoji

In an interview back in the late 1990s Woody Allen described himself as “thin but fun,” and the exact same thing could be said about many of his movies — doubly so for his latest film “Magic in the Moonlight.” This pleasant, diverting film ...

'April Fools' gets the wrong end of the practical-joke schtick

Apr 2, 2015

'April Fools' gets the wrong end of the practical-joke schtick

by Mark Schilling

The Japanese film industry has themed many movies around that imported holiday, Christmas, or, more specifically, Christmas Eve, which has become Japan’s date night of date nights. Even those outside the local film industry now celebrate special days that originated elsewhere, including Halloween, Valentine’s ...