Mark Schilling
When the effects of dementia cause Yohji (left, Tatsuya Fuji) to spiral out of control, it becomes clear to his son (Mirai Moriyama) that he has been absent from his life in more ways than one in Kei Chikaura’s “Great Absence.”
Jul 11, 2024
‘Great Absence’: Poetic family drama follows downfall of dementia-plagued patriarch
A retired professor’s mind is slipping away from him, but there is more to unravel in Kei Chikaura’s dark family drama.
Takashi Yamazaki’s “Godzilla Minus One,” which won an Academy Award for best visual effects, was made for a reported $15 million — a small fraction of the budgets used by its Hollywood competitors.
Jul 6, 2024
Japanese cinema is having a stand-out year. Here are some films to watch.
The success of "Godzilla Minus One" gave Japan's film industry a confidence boost, but we haven't been short on must-see hits in 2024.
Leying (played by Jia Ling) hasn't been living up to her potential, but is pushed into a radical transformation by hitting rock bottom in the Chinese remake of a hit Japanese boxing drama in "YOLO."
Jul 4, 2024
‘YOLO’: A classic zero-to-hero story with a real-life body transformation
Actor and comedian Jia Ling dropped 50 kilograms for her role in a Chinese remake of a hit Japanese boxing drama.
Izumi (Hana Sugisaki, left) tries to get to the bottom of a murder case that ends up going all the way to the top of Japan’s national intelligence agency.
Jun 27, 2024
‘Sakura’: Secret agents, a murder mystery and one very determined young sleuth
Hana Sugisaki’s performance as a lowly employee in a prefectural police department stands out from typical portrayals in a domestic whodunit.
The experiences of our protagonist (Yukino Takahashi, right) and her fellow sex workers lead them to wonder if they still have some spark of humanity left in Shimpei Yamasaki’s “During the Rains.”
Jun 20, 2024
‘During the Rains’ captures a blunt, modern glimpse of Japan’s sex industry
Yukino Takahashi’s self-immolating performance makes her character hard to like but also forces the viewer to contend with the reality of her line of work.
Tomoyo (Mei Nagano)'s life is suddenly turned upside down when she learns about the suicide of a childhood friend, in Yuki Tanada’s “My Broken Mariko."
Jun 15, 2024
Japanese Film Festival Online gives old and new titles a second life overseas
The festival will unfold in two sessions: the first from June 5 to 19 with 23 films, and the second from June 19 to July 3 with 25 films and two TV drama series.
Why is Sayoko (Ko Shibasaki), a psychiatrist, helping a journalist torture people for revenge? Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Serpent’s Path” leaves you wondering which way is up as the sinister plot unfolds.
Jun 13, 2024
Kurosawa’s cult classic gets a French makeover in ‘Serpent’s Path’
Ko Shibasaki’s basilisk-like stare underpins a remake which leaves the audience unable to solve the whodunit.
After a teenage girl loses her parents, she grapples with her new reality under an aunt’s guardianship in “Worlds Apart.”
Jun 6, 2024
‘Worlds Apart’ explores family, loss and unconventional ideas of love
A 15-year-old girl is orphaned when her parents die right before her eyes.
Saori (Satomi Ishihara) is thrust into a parent’s worst nightmare when her daughter goes missing, and her socially awkward brother emerges as the prime suspect.
May 30, 2024
‘Missing’: A kidnapping story fully aware of loss
Keisuke Yoshida’s “Missing” explores a mother’s anguish (without overdoing it), commenting on modern Japan’s dark media landscape.
The documentary short “Now and Then" traces how the Beatles honored John Lennon after his death by crafting a tune he wrote into the “last Beatles song.”
May 30, 2024
Eight standout films to catch at this year's Short Shorts Film Festival
The event will screen roughly 270 films that range from dramas about current social issues to animations that push the limits of the imagination.
Takashi Miike (front left) is among the big-name directors slated to work with K2 Pictures, a new film production startup that aims to disrupt the Japanese film industry.
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
May 25, 2024
Can K2's goal of creating a better film industry in Japan win over skeptics?
While established auteurs such as Takashi Miike, Miwa Nishikawa and Hirokazu Kore-eda are slated to work with the startup, it still faces an uphill struggle.
Kakunoshin Yanagida (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi), a ronin and master of go, seeks revenge and justice in Kazuya Shiraishi’s “Bushido.”
May 23, 2024
‘Bushido’: A realistically stylish samurai throwback
Slashing realism, fluid camera work and moody color palettes achieve an evocative effect in Kazuya Shiraishi’s samurai drama “Bushido.”
A gawky high school senior (Hsu Kuang-han, right) falls for an older colleague (Kaya Kiyohara) who gives him life advice in “18×2 Beyond Youthful Days.”
May 16, 2024
‘18×2 Beyond Youthful Days’: Formulaic tearjerker hits the road for true love
Though the leads lack chemistry, they nonetheless earn kudos for their performances in Michihito Fujii’s Japan-Taiwan co-production.
A skeptical reporter (Yukichi Tanaka, right) about the existence of extraterrestrials travels to a self-proclaimed UFO city for a story in “Alien’s Daydream.”
May 9, 2024
'Alien’s Daydream': Micro budget film delivers fresh takes
Yoshiki Matsumoto’s debut feature is an ambitious, multilayered essay on the UFO phenomenon with tongue firmly in cheek.
Four girls congregate at an empty swimming pool at their high school and discuss their lives in “Swimming in a Sand Pool.”
May 2, 2024
‘Swimming in a Sand Pool’ takes rare dive into gender issues
Nobuhiro Yamashita draws appealingly natural performances from his cast of newcomers in the film adaptation of an award-winning play.
The inhabitants of a tranquil mountain village see their local environment threatened by Tokyoites with plans to build a glamping site in “Evil Does Not Exist.”
Apr 25, 2024
‘Evil Does Not Exist’ builds its dramatic tension to perfection
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s nuanced drama deftly meditates on humanity’s complex relationship with nature.
A body disposal expert for criminals (Yuya Endo, right) tries to protect a defiant teen (Kokoro Morita) from a ruthless gangster in “Tatsumi.”
Apr 18, 2024
'Tatsumi’: Gang life drama goes for violence overkill
Hiroshi Shoji’s blood-soaked feature presents a sympathetic and layered protagonist fighting to make amends.
In the new Disney+ series “House of the Owl,” Min Tanaka (left) plays a powerful political fixer, or “kuromaku,” who has a troubled relationship with his adult children, particularly his idealistic son, played by Mackenyu.
CULTURE / TV & Streaming
Apr 18, 2024
'House of the Owl' brings Hollywood values to Japanese TV
Min Tanaka plays a powerful political fixer in the 10-episode show, which centers on the behind-the-scenes machinations of "kuromaku."
Discomfort and life lessons ensue after a 60-something-year-old man (Shofukutei Tsurube, center) marries a much younger woman (Ayami Nakajo, left) while living with his 39-year-old daughter (Noriko Eguchi) in “Amalock.”
Apr 11, 2024
‘Amalock’: Family comedy plays questionable age gap for laughs
Noriko Eguchi delivers a relatable performance as a woman who is disconcerted by her father’s marriage in Kazuhiro Nakamura’s film.
Abe no Seimei (Kento Yamazaki), an apprentice at a school of mystic arts, gets wrapped up in a murder investigation in “The Yin Yang Master Zero.”
Apr 4, 2024
‘The Yin Yang Master Zero’: Imaginative action film casts a dazzling spell
Shimako Sato’s VFX-heavy, big-budget fantasy about practitioners of mystic arts goes beyond the genre standard.


Akiko Trush says her experience with the neurological disorder dystonia left her feeling like she wanted to chop her own hand off.
The neurological disorder that 'kills culture'