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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.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Aug 17, 2016
Prize-winning short 'Oh Lucy' brings humor to the classroom
Given the potential global audience available on digital film platforms, it is surprising how few Japanese filmmakers have invested in foreign-language subtitles to get their films out there. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to find director Atsuko Hirayanagi's short comedy "Oh Lucy" up on Vimeo.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Aug 10, 2016
'Song of Lahore' sings the praises of Pakistan's cultural hub
Fundamentalist terrorism is affecting everywhere these days, but what is often forgotten is how the Islamic world suffers, too. The documentary "Song of Lahore" takes us to Pakistan's cultural hub, a home to the arts since the Mughal empire, yet a city where musicians now live in fear of Taliban violence....
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Aug 3, 2016
'High-Rise': J.C. Ballard adaptation topples on screen
In 1955, the city of St. Louis finished construction on the Pruitt-Igoe housing estate, designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki (who would later build New York City's Twin Towers). A raw-concrete sprawl of 33 tower blocks, it was meant to halt the spread of slums by building up, and to give residents parks,...
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Aug 3, 2016
Where's the money?
Hillary Clinton's long march to the U.S. presidency continues unabated, and many voters are so scared of the idea of President Donald Trump, they'd vote for Clinton even if she sprouted fangs and hissed like a cobra. But anyone who's all comfy with the idea that voting for Clinton as the "lesser of two...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 27, 2016
'Dope': It's hard to kick the stereotyping habit
Growing up black in America inevitably means dealing with the stereotypes that the majority (white) culture places on you, and more than a few films have explored those tensions. With "Dope," Nigerian-American writer-director Rick Famuyiwa takes it a step further and asks: What does it mean to be a minority...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 20, 2016
There's a starman, waiting on the screen . . .
In 1975, just as David Bowie had achieved breakthrough success, he was simultaneously teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A re-issued single of "Space Oddity" was No. 1 in the U.K., and he scored his first No. 1 single in the States with "Fame," while also cracking the top five with "Young...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 20, 2016
'Trumbo': Shining over Hollywood's blacklist
American conservatives are forever whinging about "liberal Hollywood," but really they have only themselves to blame.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 13, 2016
'Amy': Remembering the star the right way
Back in 1969, John Lennon — then on his media-hounded honeymoon with Yoko Ono — penned "The Ballad of John and Yoko," with the chorus, "The way things are going, they're gonna crucify me." It seems a bit over-the-top, until you recall how his next decade unraveled: Ono was vilified as the...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 6, 2016
'Brooklyn': Romance is not dead, it's just dull
Given its title, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Brooklyn" was a movie about lumbersexual hipsters, all named Zach, opening a single-origin, gluten-free artisanal mac-and-cheese shop in Fort Point, and the zany complications that arise when they realize two bathrooms are inadequate to serve the...
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Jun 22, 2016
'Nina' is still worth watching
The "politically correct"(PC) left is often no better than the Christian right when it comes to looking for ways to be offended by movies. The latest victim of PC backlash is "Nina," the film based on legendary jazz and blues singer and civil-rights icon Nina Simone. Nina is played by Zoe Saldana ("Avatar"),...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jun 15, 2016
'Citizenfour': Big Brother has always been with us
The tele-screen received and transmitted simultaneously. ... There was of course no way of knowing when you were being watched. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual was guesswork. At any rate they could plug in to your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jun 8, 2016
The topic of AI always raises HAL and more
An astronaut in deep space finishes up some repairs to the parabolic antenna on his spacecraft's exterior. Through his helmet's microphone, he commands the ship's controlling supercomputer, HAL 9000, "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." A second later he gets a calm, cold response in his helmet: "I'm sorry,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jun 8, 2016
'Ex Machina': When the machine has its own ghost
When the histories are written years from now, our era will be defined by information technology in much the same way that the 1960s were defined by rock 'n' roll and social protest, or in the U.S., the '20s by Prohibition. People will look back with bewilderment at images of us — like we do at those...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Jun 1, 2016
The EU is on firm ground when it comes to film
The European Union might be teetering on the brink of collapse politically, but culturally it's still presenting a united front. EU Film Days, a showcase of movies from Portugal to Lithuania, Finland to Greece, is entering its sixth year in Japan, with daily screenings throughout the rainy season at...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 25, 2016
'Where to Invade Next': Moore still preaching to the converted
'War is God's way of teaching Americans geography," as journalist Ambrose Bierce once put it, and it's true that many denizens of the Empire have little curiosity as to what goes on outside its borders unless they have to bomb it. This attitude was best summed up by the Texas Republican former House...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 11, 2016
'Cartel Land' uncovers little hope and no glory
The debate over border policy in the United States has reached levels of nonsense worthy of Lewis Carroll. On the right, you have presidential candidate Donald Trump tarring all immigrants from south of the Rio Grande as "rapists and murderers," and pledging to build a "huge" wall to keep them out. On...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 11, 2016
'Hail, Caesar!': The Coen brothers miss a few pins
The Coen Brothers have always been critical darlings, but their 17th film, the 1950s Hollywood-set comedy "Hail, Caesar!" has shown an unusually wide gap between critical raves and tepid audience response. This despite a star-studded cast that includes George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin,...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 4, 2016
'Victoria': One girl, one city, one take, one dud
Shortly after finishing a column the other day where I focused on Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and the beauty and power of his long single-take shots, I sat down to watch arty suspense flick "Victoria," which was shot entirely in one take. If films like "Birdman" or "The Revenant" display...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 20, 2016
Lubezki achieves the extraordinary long shot
At this year's Oscars, while everyone was fuming about the academy's lack of diversity, few bothered to notice an incredible achievement: Mexican cameraman Emmanuel Lubezki, also known by his nickname "Chivo," became the first person ever to win three Oscars in a row for Best Cinematography. (And one...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 20, 2016
'The Revenant': Revenge is less sweet than bloody
With last year's "Birdman," it became clear that director Alejandro G. Inarritu no longer just wanted to make good films, he aimed to make great ones. Every scene, every shot in that film seemed designed to surpass the conventional.

Longform

The Japanese government updated its English education guidelines in 2017 to emphasize communication over grammar and memorization. Public school teachers are incredibly busy, however, which means schools haven’t been able to implement changes uniformly. Private and alternative schools are attempting to remedy this.
The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan