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Lego builds the year's first true blockbuster

Mar 20, 2014

Lego builds the year's first true blockbuster

by Jun Hongo

Film director Phil Lord has fond childhood memories of days spent playing with Lego’s colorful plastic blocks. He says he would simply dump what he had on the floor and create a huge mess. “I never remember picking them up,” he says. He also ...

When fictional bands move from screen to stage

Mar 20, 2014

When fictional bands move from screen to stage

by Giovanni Fazio

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” is undoubtedly one of the best films you’ll see this or any year — passionate, joyous and heartbreakingly sad — but it’s also remarkable for being one of those rare music films where a fictional on-screen band goes on to ...

'The Lego Movie'

Mar 20, 2014

'The Lego Movie'

by Giovanni Fazio

Read almost any overseas review of “The Lego Movie” and it will say what a clever, riotous laugh-fest it is. So why, then, at a recent Tokyo screening, was not one giggle heard over the course of 100 minutes? Why did it feel like ...

'The Broken Circle Breakdown'

Mar 20, 2014

'The Broken Circle Breakdown'

by Kaori Shoji

Love is supposed to crush you and marriage is the fast track to long-time despair. Such dark truisms are flung about in “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” a Belgian film whose spirit is so 20th-century Americana it may as well be draped in the Stars ...

'Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking With a Friend)'

Mar 20, 2014

'Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking With a Friend)'

by Mark Schilling

Akira Ogata’s “Tomodachi to Aruko (Walking with a Friend),” which screened in the Japanese Cinema Splash section of last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, is one of many recent Japanese films about the problems of the elderly in this rapidly graying country. Unlike nearly ...

'Lone Survivor'

Mar 20, 2014

'Lone Survivor'

by Giovanni Fazio

The French have Camerone, the British Isandlwana, the Greeks Thermopylae, but Americans seem particularly enamored of heroic last stands, from the Alamo and Custer’s Last Stand through the “Black Hawk Down” debacle in Somalia. Add a new name to that list: Operation Red Wings, ...

'Saving Mr. Banks'

Mar 20, 2014

'Saving Mr. Banks'

by Kaori Shoji

The word “no” comes out of the lips of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) more frequently than any other (I counted five in less than 50 seconds of screen time). She often strings them together like beads, presenting them to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) himself, ...

Twice Born (Aru Ai e to Tsudzuku Tabi)

Mar 20, 2014

Twice Born (Aru Ai e to Tsudzuku Tabi)

by Giovanni Fazio

Director: Sergio Castellitto Language: English, Italian, Bosnian (subtitled in Japanese) Based on the novel by Margaret Mazzantini, “Twice Born” follows middle-aged Gemma (Penelope Cruz) as she travels to Bosnia with her teenage son, where memories of her late husband (Emile Hirsch) come bubbling back ...

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Mar 20, 2014

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

by Kaori Shoji

Director: Thor Freudenthal Language: English Logan Lerman, star of last year’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” has another cinema identity as Percy Jackson. Despite the nerdy name, Percy is a direct descendant of Greek sea god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and is a pretty ...

Kaidan Nobori Ryu (Blind Woman's Curse)

Mar 20, 2014

Kaidan Nobori Ryu (Blind Woman's Curse)

by Mark Schilling

Director: Teruo Ishii Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Meiko Kaji, the doyenne of 1970s exploitation pics, is at her glowering, slashing best in Teruo Ishii’s 1970 actioner as the leader of an Edo Period yakuza gang who must fight not only her opponents but ...

Surviving the latest trend in American cinema

Mar 13, 2014

Surviving the latest trend in American cinema

by Kaori Shoji

Who is this man? The protagonist in “All is Lost” is also its sole character — an older (but astoundingly fit) stranded sailor portrayed by 77-year-old Robert Redford. He’s unnamed, and does not speak except for right at the beginning of the film when ...