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The must-see list is long at Short Shorts film fest

May 21, 2015

The must-see list is long at Short Shorts film fest

by Kaori Shoji

When it comes to getting a movie fix these days, more people opt for their computer screens than venturing outside to a theater. Hollywood has countered this trend with a slew of 3-D blockbusters and cinematic largesse, but how does the short film fare? ...

Keiichi Hara's new animation honors Hokusai's daughter

May 20, 2015

Keiichi Hara's new animation honors Hokusai's daughter

by Mark Schilling

Ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s best-known artists. His print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” with its giant blue wave curling over a tiny Mount Fuji, is seen on T-shirts and coffee mugs around the world. Given his multifarious talent, vast energy ...

Aikawa's brainless fun in 'Deadman Inferno'

May 20, 2015

Aikawa's brainless fun in 'Deadman Inferno'

by Mark Schilling

Sho Aikawa was once the tough-guy muse of Takashi Miike, appearing in films such as “Gokudo Kuroshakai” (“Rainy Dog”), “Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha” (“Dead or Alive”) and “Gokudo Kyofu Dai-gekijo: Gozu” (“Gozu”) that made the director the international “King of Cult.” The sandpapery voice, ...

Danish filmmaker's emotional, queasy 'Second Chance'

May 20, 2015

Danish filmmaker's emotional, queasy 'Second Chance'

by Kaori Shoji

Scandinavian countries consistently come out tops on the happiness index but Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (“Love is All You Need”) continues in her apparent quest to dig up the darkest muck in the river bed of the human soul. If you’re familiar with Bier’s ...

Blomkamp's sentimental 'Chappie' comes alive

May 20, 2015

Blomkamp's sentimental 'Chappie' comes alive

by Kaori Shoji

‘Chappie” could almost be described as “Three Thugs and a Baby Bot.” Though the story raises Isaac Asimov-like issues of good vs. evil in the context of robot technology and its human creators, philosophy takes a back seat as family sentiments sashay to center ...

Urban planning

| May 20, 2015

Urban planning

by Kaori Shoji

“Inside Architecture — Dare mo Shiranai Kenchiku no Hanashi” is a fascinating look at the relationship between money and city planning, economy and architecture. The filmmaker behind this formidable documentary is 38-year-old Tomomi Ishiyama, a Fulbright scholar who studied at New York City University ...

All about AV, but no sex in 'Makeup Room'

May 13, 2015

All about AV, but no sex in 'Makeup Room'

by Mark Schilling

Films that take the audience inside Japan’s huge and diverse porn industry have been appearing for decades. In the 1991 “Skinless Night,” Rokuro Mochizuki told a semi-autobiographical story about a porn director’s desperation to escape the business (an aim that the widely praised film ...

'Ao no Ran' is a riproaring rhapsody in blue

May 13, 2015

'Ao no Ran' is a riproaring rhapsody in blue

by Kaori Shoji

“Ao no Ran” is the latest in the popular Geki×Cine series. To cut a long story short, Geki×Cine is a filmed stage production, but one done so meticulously that not a single moment of relevance or emotion is lost in the translating process. What ...

Terry Gilliam back on form with 'The Zero Theorem'

May 13, 2015

Terry Gilliam back on form with 'The Zero Theorem'

by Giovanni Fazio

Terry Gilliam’s “The Zero Theorem,” like most of his films, focuses on the all-too-thin line between sanity and insanity, reality and delusion. Its steampunk-meets-cyberpunk visual style is a wonderful jumble that’s reminiscent of his much loved “Brazil,” with touches like a computer mainframe that ...