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Our critics in the crossfire

by Kaori Shoji

The Japan Times’ three film writers got together before Christmas to discuss their top picks of movies released this year. Unusually, this year both Giovanni Fazio and Kaori Shoji agreed on their No. 1, choosing “The Broken Circle Breakdown.” Mark Schilling picked Mipo Oh’s “Soko Nomi Nite Hikari Kagayaku” (“The ...

Ieji (Homeland)

Dec 24, 2014

Ieji (Homeland)

Director: Nao Kubota Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Nao Kubota’s drama about a Fukushima family’s struggles in the aftermath of the 3/11 disaster stars Kenichi Matsuyama as a son who returns to farm the family land that is poisoned by radiation. Despite its elegiac, ...

Broken

Dec 24, 2014

Broken

by Giovanni Fazio

Director: Rufus Norris Language: English This straight-to-DVD release is better than expected. Theater director Rufus Norris makes his cinematic debut with “Broken,” which — unsurprisingly for a British film — takes a social-realist look at the lives of three very different families living around ...

Top 10 films of 2014: made in Japan, for Japan

Dec 24, 2014

Top 10 films of 2014: made in Japan, for Japan

by Mark Schilling

Are Japanese films in decline? Not at the box office, where they still beat the Hollywood competition (with the huge exception this year of “Frozen”), but what about international festival invitations, awards and critical buzz? The answer depends on your perspective. For overseas festivals ...

Mysterious 'Evangelion' short film released

Dec 21, 2014

Mysterious 'Evangelion' short film released

by Daisuke Kikuchi

A brief but revealing chapter in Hideaki Anno’s ongoing cult anime series, “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” was released Friday on the Animator Expo website. The series, first broadcast in October, 1995, has been turned into a four-part series of films set in a post-apocalyptic future ...

A Promise: 'It's hard to care about these doomed lovers'

Dec 17, 2014

A Promise: 'It's hard to care about these doomed lovers'

by Giovanni Fazio

‘A Promise” seeks to be an intensely intimate portrait of repressed desire; a European “In The Mood For Love” set in pre-Great War Germany, with enough attentive butlers, elegant interiors and Sunday-finest promenades to make any Merchant-Ivory fan swoon. Based on the novel “Journey ...

Elena: 'A face permanently set in lines of disappointment'

Dec 17, 2014

Elena: 'A face permanently set in lines of disappointment'

by Kaori Shoji

A Russian friend once defined the Russian temperament with one word: “heavy.” That certainly holds for the characters in “Elena,” an excellent tale of a Russian family struggling to navigate a world defined by Western capitalism and the supposed magical powers afforded by digital ...

Ju-on: Owari no Hajimari (Ju-on: The Beginning of the End)

Dec 17, 2014

Ju-on: Owari no Hajimari (Ju-on: The Beginning of the End)

by Mark Schilling

Director: Masayuki Ochiai Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Horror veteran Masayuki Ochiai attempts to revive the moribund “Ju-on” (The Grudge) series with that genre flick perennial: the origin story. Model/actress Nozomi Sasaki gives good scream as the elementary school teacher investigating the mysterious absence ...