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Keanu Reeves' concoction of 'The Whole Truth'

Mar 30, 2016

Keanu Reeves' concoction of 'The Whole Truth'

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The American judicial system may not have its finest hour in “The Whole Truth” but the film is nonetheless a gripping 90-minute courtroom drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The film is unflattering to lawyers and unkind to witnesses — ...

'Bitter Honey': Fishing for the love of a writer

Mar 30, 2016

'Bitter Honey': Fishing for the love of a writer

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Films about elderly men falling for elusive young women (and utimately regretting it) go back to “The Blue Angel” (1930). One Japanese example is Kaneto Shindo’s 1992 “Bokuto Kidan” (“The Strange Tale of Oyuki”), a biopic about writer Kafu Nagai and the prostitute he ...

A terrible film saved by the dog

Mar 30, 2016

A terrible film saved by the dog

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One of the two stars I gave this film is to honor the combined team of Terry Jones, the director and co-writer (and former member of Monty Python), and Simon Pegg, the star who is never out of a single frame. Actually, make that ...

3-D pornography is still pornography

Mar 30, 2016

3-D pornography is still pornography

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During the heyday of Japan’s “pink films” (cinematic porn) in the 1960s and ’70s, directors were given free rein over their pictures as long as they included at least one sex scene per reel. For the late Koji Wakamatsu, perhaps the genre’s most famous ...

Documentary delves into the darker side of Kawasaki

| Mar 30, 2016

Documentary delves into the darker side of Kawasaki

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Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture is famed for three things: yakiniku barbecue restaurants, sex shops and a high crime rate. Though parts of the city are middle class, a grittier and lower-income image of Kawasaki has persisted through the years. “Sakura no Kino Shita” (“Under ...

Forever young: Riko Narumi gives up old roles

Mar 23, 2016

Forever young: Riko Narumi gives up old roles

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In 2000, Riko Narumi made her first appearance on TV at age 7. She has worked steadily in both television and film ever since, and has 24 entries in her filmography, ranging from the drama “Shindo”(2007), where she played a troubled teen piano prodigy, ...

Altering the history and gender of 'The Danish Girl'

Mar 23, 2016

Altering the history and gender of 'The Danish Girl'

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Are you into Scandinavian design? If you are, “The Danish Girl” will have you swooning. Even the first 10 seconds of the opening scene will provoke design envy and, for those who care about the details, Copenhagen apartment envy, circa 1926. Director Tom Hooper ...

The transformative power of Japan's 'magical girls'

Mar 16, 2016

The transformative power of Japan's 'magical girls'

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There is one surprising thing about Japan’s male-dominated — some may say rabidly misogynistic — society: manga and anime support women. True, there are plenty of examples to the contrary (take a short stroll through any Akihabara anime shop if you need proof). But ...