'Before We Vanish':  Tension builds steadily during an alien attack

/ Sep 13, 2017

'Before We Vanish': Tension builds steadily during an alien attack

How do you imagine the coming alien invasion? Movies have been all over the map with this question, though in recent Japanese films such as Takashi Yamazaki's "Parasyte" duology (2013-14) and Daihachi Yoshida's "A Beautiful Star" (2017), extraterrestrial visitors take a human form. This is ...

Filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda: 'I wanted to do something different'

Sep 7, 2017

Filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda: 'I wanted to do something different'

Hirokazu Koreeda is best known for intimate family dramas that overseas critics often compare to the work of Yasujiro Ozu (1903-63), the genre's unquestioned master. Koreeda rejects these comparisons, however, and says he feels more of a cinematic kinship to Mikio Naruse (1905-69), one ...

'Dear Etranger': When the family drama gets real

/ Aug 30, 2017

'Dear Etranger': When the family drama gets real

Despite a career spanning nearly three decades, Yukiko Mishima hasn't appeared on many lists of up-and-coming Japanese female directors, mine included. One reason: She had a relatively late start, not releasing her first feature, a drama based on the Junichiro Tanizaki story "The Tatooer," ...

Takehiro Hira embodies the samurai spirit in 'Sekigahara'

Aug 24, 2017

Takehiro Hira embodies the samurai spirit in 'Sekigahara'

In Japan children of famous actors often follow in their parent's footsteps as if it were part of some foreordained destiny. There are many examples of this in kabuki, where acting families can trace their lineages back generations, but it happens quite a lot ...