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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
Jan 4, 2017
'Wiener-Dog': Todd Solondz is always painfully funny
Trigger warning: I am about to discuss a Todd Solondz film.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Dec 21, 2016
The bad year that pervaded the screens
The past year has been a cursed one. It began with the death of David Bowie and proceeded to get worse on every level: political hysteria, impending ecological doom, the creeping encroach of net-connected tech into every corner of our lives, and a blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality now known as "post-truth." It was not a great year for cinema — as the gazillion-dollar franchises increasingly shoved everything else to the margins — but the best films seemed both timely and truthful, speaking directly to the chaos of 2016.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Dec 14, 2016
'Beep' tracks down 8-bit maestros
Here's one for the gamers: "Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound" interviews more than 80 composers, sound designers and voice actors in a comprehensive look at its topic. Starting with mechanical pinball bells, "Beep" moves through the bleepy 8-bit sounds of 1980s arcade games to the present, where an entire otaku subculture is dedicated to the live performance of game music.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Dec 7, 2016
'Smoke': the movie that blazed a trail for indies
Just in time for Christmas, Yebisu Garden Cinema is reviving a film that was one of the cinema's biggest hits in the 1990s, director Wayne Wang's "Smoke," in a crisp new digital remastered version. Watching it again after all these years, it's hard not to feel a little pang, for in many ways it recalls days gone by.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Nov 30, 2016
'Tale of Tales': Do we need fables for adults?
The current ideological system that governs our lives — call it late capitalism, the spectacle, or just Babylon — is most devious in its ability to take any and all resistance, any deviance from the hamster wheel of consumerism, and repackage it as just another product, whether that's Che Guevara T-shirts, "fair-trade" coffee at Starbucks, or The Beatles' "Revolution" as a soundtrack for Nike ads.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Nov 30, 2016
The diversity of religion captured on film
Reflecting on the rise of a generation of Japanese that has grown up suspicious of organized religion — particularly those who came of age in the shadow of 1995's terror attacks by the Aum Shinrikyo cult — Nihon University's College of Art has put together a Religion Film Festival, which will be screening at Shibuya's Eurospace Dec. 10-16.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Nov 23, 2016
'Born to be Blue': Biopic goes free-form on Chet Baker's story
For casual fans or people who have yet to encounter Baker, 'Born To Be Blue' is a good place to start, perfectly encapsulating the fragility and self-destructive urges that underlined his uniquely beautiful and melancholic music.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Nov 23, 2016
The gritty side of Polish film
European cinema lost one of its greats in October, when Polish director Andrzej Wajda passed away at the age of 90. Wajda, perhaps best known for his 1981 Cannes Palme d'Or winner "Man of Iron," had a long association with Japan, being awarded both the Kyoto Prize in 1987 and the Order of The Rising Sun in 1995.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Nov 9, 2016
Linklater swaps tension for jock jokes in 'Everybody Wants Some!!'
With his 1993 major studio debut, "Dazed & Confused," director Richard Linklater tried to go mainstream with the style he'd explored in his Gen-X defining indie hit "Slacker." Set on the last day of school in the summer of 1976, "Dazed" felt like it was happening in real time, with a huge cast of characters that kept bouncing off each other like the director was playing some human pinball game.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Oct 26, 2016
'Heart of a Dog': Living with the heartbreak of loss
I wake up on a Sunday and my friend is gone. Cancer. I had known, but it was sudden. Memories of her come in a rush, accompanied by old photos re-shared, emails lingering deep in the inbox, a handwritten note. Her absence — the knowledge that I'd never get any more of her stream-of-consciousness texts about sunsets on the Keio Line, or see that beaming smile when I dropped some new tracks on her — was suffocating, that moment where a life stops being something evolving and intoxicating and turns into the fixed fragments of memory.
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Oct 26, 2016
Staring into the 'Black Mirror'
After two short seasons on British broadcaster Channel 4, the near-future techno-dystopian sci-fi series "Black Mirror" moves to Netflix, with a bigger budget and more episodes.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Oct 19, 2016
A cinematic view from overseas
The 29th edition of the TIFF, like every other festival, has suffered from content bloat over the years, but scanning the schedule carefully is worth the effort. A good place to start is usually the World Focus section; this category doesn't require that films be exclusive to TIFF, so it can draw from a range films that are currently hot on the festival circuit.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Oct 12, 2016
Feel the Latin film beat
The Latin Beat Film Festival enters its 13th year, offering cinephiles in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama a chance to check out the latest in Spanish-language cinema with a dozen new films.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 28, 2016
When it comes to the Beatles, we'll never let it be
The Beatles' career as a live band came to a — literally — screeching halt in August 1966, when on their final American tour, the howling of frenzied female fans became so deafening they could no longer hear themselves play. Author Tom Wolfe, describing a San Francisco stadium gig, wrote of "great sheets of scream like sheets of rain in a squall ... and that sound he thinks cannot get higher, it doubles, his eardrums ring like stamped metal with it until suddenly Ghhhhwoooooowwww, it is like the whole thing has snapped ... a writhing, seething mass of little girls."
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 28, 2016
'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies': The undead can't liven up a classic
Arriving just in time to miss peak steampunk by a year or two is "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," a one-joke movie that is itself based on a one-joke book, Seth Grahame-Smith's 2009 mash-up of the 1813 Jane Austen novel with B-movie zombie horror.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Sep 28, 2016
Shep Gordon lives life like a movie
Behind every star, you can be sure there's a schmoozing, shouting manager who got them where they are. It's not a profession noted for its integrity; managers most often make news when being sued by a former client. Yet comedian Mike Myers ("Austin Powers") likes his manager so much, he made a film about him.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 21, 2016
'The Pervert's Guide to Ideology': Philosophy outside the ivory tower
Love him or hate him, you have to at least credit Slovenian philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj Zizek for trying.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Sep 21, 2016
'Stranger Things' happened in the 1980s
The streaming wars continue, and one advantage Netflix has over its rivals is that it releases its original content in Japan without much annoying time lag. That's true of their new paranormal series "Stranger Things," which came out in the dog days of summer but is still building buzz.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 7, 2016
'Janis: Little Girl Blue': Basking in the limelight of the blues
Hollywood loves its messed-up, tragic rock stars, and a biopic of hippie icon and "white blues" singer Janis Joplin has been in the works for longer than anyone can remember, with everyone from Pink to Amy Adams slated for the lead role.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Aug 24, 2016
'The Myth of the American Sleepover': Missing some identifying teen spirit
It's one hot night near the end of summer somewhere in leafy suburban America, and a bunch of high school kids — from baby-faced freshmen to confident seniors — ride bikes out to their favorite swimming holes, cruise around in cars blaring tunes, wander from house to house thinking that the next party will be better and, with the help of alcohol, try to get sloppy enough to make out with someone. They're all restless, not realizing that years from now, they're going to look back at this aimless freedom as "the best days of their lives."

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on