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 Giovanni Fazio

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Giovanni Fazio
Giovanni Fazio has been The Japan Times' resident film crank since 1993. When not at the movies, he is busy recording and playing live with his band Makyo and running the independent electronica label Dakini Records.
For Giovanni Fazio's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jun 28, 2017
'Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents': Alternative music's anti-stars make for fascinating documentary subjects
Some 45 years after their first appearance on a San Francisco stage, The Residents remain a band that practically defines the term "cult," and their freak-show, cartoon-surrealist approach continues to attract a healthy fan base (as evidenced by some sold-out shows at Tokyo's Blue Note back in March).
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 17, 2017
It's all about the humans in 'Arrival'
With "Arrival," director Denis Villeneuve takes a very familiar alien invasion scenario and tries to put a new twist on it. While everyone from H. G. Wells in "War of the Worlds" to Roland Emmerich in "Independence Day" has envisioned a swarm of spacecraft attacking us, Villeneuve imagines what would happen if the aliens landed and just chilled. How would humanity respond? With fear, suspicion and weapons? Or with an attempt at communication and understanding?
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 26, 2017
New documentary turns the lens on photographer Robert Frank
In 1957, aspiring photographer Robert Frank met Jack Kerouac at a party for the writer's recently published novel "On the Road." Frank himself had just come back from his own road trip, an eerily similar journey into the real heart of America.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 19, 2017
Eco-blockbuster 'Deepwater Horizon' bypasses a bigger issue
With "Deepwater Horizon," Hollywood attempts the difficult maneuver of having its cake and eating it too. It's certainly possible to make a rabble-rousing liberal issue movie, and it's even easier to make any sort of film that involves lots of CGI explosions, but it's rare that a filmmaker gets the chance to do both in the same movie.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 5, 2017
'Moonlight' provides two parts intrigue, one part tedium
After 242 award nominations and 186 wins — including three Oscars and a near-perfect rating on Metacritic.com — we finally get to see "Moonlight" here in Japan with all the burdens of raised expectations. Can any film possibly live up to all that hype?
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Mar 29, 2017
'Captain Fantastic': Fantastic viewing for all the family
Matt Ross is probably best known for his role in the HBO comedy series "Silicon Valley," where he plays the arrogant CEO Gavin Belson of Google-like IT giant Hooli. Belson is a man wired deep into the matrix, for whom nothing matters more than massive functionality in lossless cloud-based compression, and keeping the shareholders happy.
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Mar 29, 2017
'Trump: What’s The Deal?': you can finally find out
"Trump: What's The Deal," a documentary completed in 1991, was meant to be the first in a series on the celebrity businessmen who characterized the greed-is-good 1980s. It was never released as Donald Trump threatened to sue any broadcaster or distributor who handled it.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Mar 22, 2017
'Jackie': More pomp than circumstance
There's a scene near the end of "Jackie" where the just-widowed first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) is talking with her priest (John Hurt) about the meaning of life and asks, somewhat bitterly, "Is that all there is?"
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Mar 15, 2017
Looking back on the 'trial of the century'
Everywhere you look these days, it feels like it's just Trump, Trump and even more Trump. It's worth taking a moment to recall that 23 years ago many people were just as sick of O.J. Simpson when the amiable American football star-turned-TV/movie celebrity became the main suspect in the brutal murder of his estranged wife, Nicole, and the subsequent trial/media circus marked the beginning of the age of binge coverage.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Mar 8, 2017
A dystopian future set in the present aftermath
With "Homo Sapiens", director Nikolaus Geyrhalter paints a haunting dystopian vision of civilization minus its creators. This unique documentary consists of nothing but steady, perfectly framed wide-shots of abandoned structures and wastelands. Imagine Wes Anderson doing location shots for "The Walking Dead" and you'll be getting warm.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Mar 1, 2017
Binge on the best of the Italian neorealists
Even a casual film buff knows that "Bicycle Thieves," the 1948 black-and-white film by Vittorio De Sica, is regarded as one of The Great Films of All Time. It's the best-known film by far of Italian cinema's postwar neorealist movement, but those who wish to delve deeper into that rich vein can binge this month at Yebisu Garden Cinema, with its Cinema Neo Classico Italia showcase.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Feb 22, 2017
'La La Land': Sometimes we need a trip to la-la land
La-la land: the mental state of someone who is not aware of what is really happening, and a nickname for the American entertainment industry centered on Los Angeles. These two meanings bleed into each other in director Damien Chazelle's multi-Oscar-nominated musical, "La La Land," which is about a state of mind as much as it is a place.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Feb 15, 2017
'Weiner': America's walking, talking punch line
If you feel like your cinematic diet has been a bit lacking in schadenfreude lately, then look no further than "Weiner," an astounding internet-age documentary of hubris and disgrace, where no stupid behavior, once recorded, ever disappears.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Feb 8, 2017
Punk: How cinema ignored something so loud
Once upon a time, Hollywood was good at co-opting and selling youth culture. When rock 'n' roll and biker gangs came along in the 1950s, the studios came up with generational totems like "Blackboard Jungle" and "The Wild Ones." Beatlemania spawned "A Hard Days Night" and "Yellow Submarine," while the hippies flocked to films like "The Graduate" and "Easy Rider." Disco fueled "Saturday Night Fever" and hip-hop "Boyz n the Hood."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Feb 8, 2017
'Green Room': Saulnier runs a red light on violence
The opening aerial shot of "Green Room" soars over the wavy green mass of an Oregon cornfield, before finding a swath through it where a van has swerved off the highway. Inside the van, so shabby you can practically smell the stale beer and B.O., four members of a rough-living punk band, The Ain't Rights, slowly awake to find that their driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, a common hazard on the overnight slog from one gig to the next. Out of money and gas, the day's first task is trekking to the nearest mall's parking lot and siphoning somebody's tank.
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Feb 8, 2017
'Do Not Resist': The consequences are high
Armored personnel carriers prowl the streets as bulky stormtroopers with automatic weapons and body armor batter down doors. Light aircraft and drones cruise the skies above, monitoring the movements to and from individual dwellings 24/7. Afghanistan? Nope, this is the troubling image of white-picket-fence America presented in director Craig Atkinson's documentary "Do Not Resist," where every small town needs an IED-proof armored vehicle.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jan 25, 2017
'Snowden': Making a hero of the 'robot nerd'
Just the other day, there was President Barack Obama on the telly, giving his farewell address to the American people. "Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted," he said gravely. "It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. ... I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jan 11, 2017
Cliff Martinez: composing through the chaos
So much movie music sounds like just that: movie music. It's rare these days to come across a score with character that really makes you sit up and listen.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jan 11, 2017
'The Neon Demon': Demonically arty — in a good way
With "The Neon Demon," director Nicolas Winding Refn seems to have come to the end of a trilogy that began with "Drive" (2011) and continued through "Only God Forgives" (2013). The idea seems to be to take genre-flick styles — car action, revenge and horror — and unravel them to the point where they become pure sensation, almost abstractions.
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Jan 11, 2017
'The Knick': Still gnarlier than 'The Walking Dead'
A number of auteurs have dabbled in TV series, such as David Fincher with "House of Cards" and Martin Scorsese with "Vinyl"; but with "The Knick," Steven Soderbergh becomes the first to hands-on direct every episode of a show from beginning to end. The result is a two-season arc of absolutely gripping television, now available on Hulu.jp.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?