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Mark Schilling

For Mark Schilling's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

'The Blood of Wolves': Old-school yakuza thrills are back

/ May 9, 2018

'The Blood of Wolves': Old-school yakuza thrills are back

The yakuza movie used to bestride the Japanese film industry like a colossus, but now clings to its margins. A well-known director occasionally essays the genre, as Takeshi Kitano did last year with "Outrage Coda," but a true revival has yet to come. Director Kazuya ...

Is the feudal era over for Japan's talent agencies?

May 2, 2018

Is the feudal era over for Japan's talent agencies?

Japanese show business definitely has a feudal side. Talent agencies control their tarento (talent) much in the way the daimyō (feudal lords) controlled the samurai in their clans, supporting their livelihoods in return for absolute fealty. And just as samurai were expected to stay ...

'Love × Doc': A rom-com on doctor's orders

/ Apr 25, 2018

'Love × Doc': A rom-com on doctor's orders

When successful Japanese scriptwriters direct films, they tend to try too hard, cramming in characters, gags, plot twists and a blizzard of cuts. Sometimes, the busyness works, as in Koki Mitani's "Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald," a 1997 screwball comedy about a chaotic radio broadcast ...

'Eriko, Pretended': Fake tears fuel a tale of self-discovery

/ Mar 28, 2018

'Eriko, Pretended': Fake tears fuel a tale of self-discovery

People who secretly fear they are phonies when in actuality they aren't are said to suffer from "imposter syndrome." The title heroine of Akiyo Fujimura's debut feature "Eriko, Pretended" has the opposite problem: She calls herself an actress but in 10 years has only ...

'Smokin' on the Moon': A stoner buddy flick takes a serious turn

/ Mar 21, 2018

'Smokin' on the Moon': A stoner buddy flick takes a serious turn

Marijuana was a subject for comedy back when I was taking my first clumsy steps into stoner culture: The comedy routines of Cheech and Chong, the music of Commander Cody, the midnight screenings of the unintentionally hilarious 1936 film "Reefer Madness." In Kanata Wolf's "Smokin' ...