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'Cartel Land' uncovers little hope and no glory

May 11, 2016

'Cartel Land' uncovers little hope and no glory

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The debate over border policy in the United States has reached levels of nonsense worthy of Lewis Carroll. On the right, you have presidential candidate Donald Trump tarring all immigrants from south of the Rio Grande as “rapists and murderers,” and pledging to build ...

'Hail, Caesar!': The Coen brothers miss a few pins

May 11, 2016

'Hail, Caesar!': The Coen brothers miss a few pins

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The Coen Brothers have always been critical darlings, but their 17th film, the 1950s Hollywood-set comedy “Hail, Caesar!” has shown an unusually wide gap between critical raves and tepid audience response. This despite a star-studded cast that includes George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, ...

Big issues in film short 'World of Tomorrow'

| May 11, 2016

Big issues in film short 'World of Tomorrow'

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Given the limited options for theatrical release, short films are generally condemned to the purgatory of YouTube, which makes the case of “World of Tomorrow” especially striking. Since premiering at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize, ...

'Six Four': Japan held hostage by the Showa Era

May 4, 2016

'Six Four': Japan held hostage by the Showa Era

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‘Don’t you understand what is to have a child taken from you? How could you be a policeman and not understand that?” That’s a line from “Rokuyon” (“Six Four”) the latest addition to Japan’s host of films about kidnapping. “Six Four” is distinctive in ...

'Hero Mania': Japanese heroes are keeping it real

May 4, 2016

'Hero Mania': Japanese heroes are keeping it real

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Why don’t Japanese audiences turn up in big numbers for Hollywood superhero movies? The rare success in Japan of the Spider-Man series suggests one answer: Japanese like superheroes just fine, as long as they’re flawed humans as well as heroic fighters for justice. Another ...

'Backtrack': Haunted by other people's pasts

May 4, 2016

'Backtrack': Haunted by other people's pasts

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These days, according to a New York Times Opinionator article by Richard Brouillette (March 16, 2015), the psychotherapist’s job is on shifting ground. Doctors are now dealing less with relationships and family problems and treating more patients suffering from workplace trauma and financial stress. ...

'Victoria': One girl, one city, one take, one dud

May 4, 2016

'Victoria': One girl, one city, one take, one dud

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Shortly after finishing a column the other day where I focused on Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and the beauty and power of his long single-take shots, I sat down to watch arty suspense flick “Victoria,” which was shot entirely in one take. If films ...

| May 4, 2016

'Asia's Next Top Model' just as catty as America's

Reality TV staple “America’s Next Top Model” recently hung up its Jimmy Choos after a stupefying 22 seasons, but its spin-off, Singapore-based “Asia’s Next Top Model,” is now in its fourth “cycle,” airing locally on Fox Channel and Hulu.jp. Fourteen tall, slender beauties from ...

Van Sant plots a bleak hike through Aokigahara

Apr 27, 2016

Van Sant plots a bleak hike through Aokigahara

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At least Arthur Brennan didn’t want sushi, an AKB48 concert or a night out on the town with a maiko (trainee geisha) on his arm. As Japan’s ranking soars on the international travelers’ destination lists, the more cliched their itineraries seem to get. But ...

'Terraformars': Miike's life on Mars has its bugs

Apr 27, 2016

'Terraformars': Miike's life on Mars has its bugs

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Now that voyages to Mars seem likely in the next generation or so, films about the red planet are moving beyond the “John Carter” (2012) space-opera stage. But for every reality-based “The Martian,” there is still a “Terraformars,” Takashi Miike’s latest extreme entertainment. The ...