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Documentary festival delivers an encore to Tokyo audiences

Jan 15, 2015

Documentary festival delivers an encore to Tokyo audiences

by Mike Sunda

Last November, Japan Times film critic Kaori Shoji predicted that the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival’s (YIDFF) program of screenings would slant toward sociopolitical analysis, focusing on substance over style. Audiences must have welcomed this weighty exposition of the documentary format, as the success ...

Neeson is taken on another adventure

Jan 15, 2015

Neeson is taken on another adventure

by James Luxford

It’s hard to believe that, a decade ago, Liam Neeson was better known for prestige Oscar dramas than high-octane action blockbusters. The Academy Award nominee spent the first 30 years of his career making his name in films such as “Kinsey” (2004), “Rob Roy” ...

Frederick Wiseman in communion with an art musuem

Jan 14, 2015

Frederick Wiseman in communion with an art musuem

by Kaori Shoji

One of the most distinctive and unique documentarians of our time, Frederick Wiseman, 85, is famed for two things: an utter disdain of explanatory narration and an exhaustive fascination with his subjects. Since 1967 — when he produced and directed “Titicut Follies,” a documentary ...

A longer look at the problems of 'Unbroken'

Jan 14, 2015

A longer look at the problems of 'Unbroken'

by Mark Schilling

Why can’t “Unbroken” — Angelina Jolie’s hit World War II drama — catch a break in Japan? There are presently no plans to release the film here in theaters, on DVD or online, even though it has a strong Japan focus as well as ...

Thermae Romae 2

Jan 14, 2015

Thermae Romae 2

by Mark Schilling

Director: Hideki Takeuchi Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) The sequel to the hit 2012 time-traveling comedy “Thermae Romae” again features bathhouse architect Lucius Modestus (Hiroshi Abe) from ancient Rome, who finds fresh inspiration in the mysterious Land of the Flat-Faced Slaves (i.e., present-day Japan). ...

The Love Punch

Jan 14, 2015

The Love Punch

by Kaori Shoji

Director: Joel Hopkins Language: English Released just over a month ago, “The Love Punch” has already gone from theater to DVD shelves. Still, this is a good movie and it confirms that veteran British performers are always a pleasure to watch. Pierce Brosnan is ...

Third Person

Jan 14, 2015

Third Person

by Giovanni Fazio

Director: Paul Haggis Language: English, Italian Paul Haggis’ “Third Person” intercuts between connected stories. There’s an alcoholic novelist (Liam Neeson) and his tempestuous younger lover (Olivia Wilde), a gullible American businessmen and the beautiful gypsy who may be conning him, among others. The tales ...

Passion and prejudice in 1930s Ireland

Jan 7, 2015

Passion and prejudice in 1930s Ireland

by Kaori Shoji

“Jimmy’s Hall” is a glimpse into Ireland in 1932 when the country was in a relative lull between wars, turmoil and strife. Director Ken Loach has consistently worked to bring the lives of the United Kingdom’s working class to cinema screens. “Jimmy’s Hall” is ...