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'Thermae Romae II'

Apr 17, 2014

'Thermae Romae II'

by Mark Schilling

Hideki Takeuchi’s “Thermae Romae” — literally “Roman Bath” — was 2012′s surprise box office smash in Japan, earning nearly ¥6 billion, the second-highest that year. Based on Mari Yamazaki’s hit manga, the film was about a bathhouse architect named Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) in ancient ...

'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Apr 17, 2014

'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

by Giovanni Fazio

Captain America was a comic-book superhero inherently tied to old-school American nationalism. Born as an anti-Nazi symbol in the unified America of the 1940s he was literally clad in the Stars and Stripes. For a time it seemed he wouldn’t survive the post-Watergate cynicism ...

'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones'

Apr 17, 2014

'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones'

by Kaori Shoji

While other fantasy heroes and heroines — such as Katniss Everdeen (“The Hunger Games”) or, heck, Harry Potter — had no time or funds to enjoy themselves, the heroine of “The Mortal Instruments,” Clary Fray (Lily Collins), is a privileged teenager living in a ...

'The Past'

Apr 17, 2014

'The Past'

by Giovanni Fazio

Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) is returning from Tehran to Paris after an absence of four years to meet his estranged wife, Marie (Berenice Bejo, from “The Artist”), who has asked to finalize a divorce. He stays at her home, but any thought of patching things ...

'47 Ronin'

Apr 17, 2014

'47 Ronin'

by Kaori Shoji

Director: Carl Rinsch Language: English You’ll enjoy this as soon as you stop thinking it has anything to do with the Chushingura episode in Japanese history. This is a visually stunning superhero movie with “oriental” costumes and A-list J-movie stars such as Ko Shibasaki ...

'Hidamari No Kanojo' (Girl in the Sunny Place)

Apr 17, 2014

'Hidamari No Kanojo' (Girl in the Sunny Place)

by Mark Schilling

Director: Takahiro Miki Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) In Takahiro Miki’s romantic drama, a shy salesman (Jun Matsumoto) reconnects with a former junior high classmate (Juri Ueno) who is now a successful businesswoman. He falls for her, but she has a secret that turns ...

Flamboyant descent into the heart of darkness

Apr 10, 2014

Flamboyant descent into the heart of darkness

by Giovanni Fazio

He’s been on the road promoting his film for about a year now, but that doesn’t mean Joshua Oppenheimer is any less passionate about his Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Act of Killing.” Ask the Texas-born, Denmark-residing director a question about his work and it may ...

'Crows Explode'

Apr 10, 2014

'Crows Explode'

by Mark Schilling

In Japanese films, high-school classrooms are often portrayed as rowdy environments where kids can talk, tease, flirt and fight, without any visible adult supervision. But when the teacher walks through the door the fun — if that’s what it is — usually ends. There ...

'August: Osage County'

Apr 10, 2014

'August: Osage County'

by Kaori Shoji

As far as craziness in families goes, it can’t get worse than what’s shown in “August: Osage County.” Start to finish, the film recalls rusty barbed wire, the type usually seen around maximum security prisons. Mind you, the story has nothing to do with ...

'The World's End'

Apr 10, 2014

'The World's End'

by Giovanni Fazio

“The World’s End” seems a lot like director Edgar Wright’s attempt to repeat the success of his 2004 cult hit “Shaun of the Dead.” Where “Shaun” was basically a comfortably numb stoner dropped into a very British version of “Night of the Living Dead,” ...

'The Act of Killing'

Apr 10, 2014

'The Act of Killing'

by Giovanni Fazio

Movies arrive so late here in Japan that they often come burdened with the weight of expectation. In the case of “The Act of Killing,” it comes in the wake of near universal critical acclaim, including a No. 1 spot on Sight & Sound ...