'Diner': Maybe find another place to eat

Film / Reviews Jul 3, 2019

'Diner': Maybe find another place to eat

The aesthetic of photographer and director Mika Ninagawa is gaudy to the nth degree. She crowds blood-red roses into her frame like crammed commuters in a rush-hour train. When she makes it rain, her actors may as well be standing under Niagara Falls. This may ...

Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Filming and acting outside your comfort zone

Film Jun 26, 2019

Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Filming and acting outside your comfort zone

When Japanese directors of a certain age and status film abroad, they usually head for developed countries, not developing ones. Although, to be fair, their choice of foreign locales often comes down to box-office calculations. Japanese audiences enjoy seeing famous European sites on the ...

'Bento Harassment': Learning lessons with lunchboxes

Film / Reviews Jun 26, 2019

'Bento Harassment': Learning lessons with lunchboxes

Japanese movies and TV dramas often feature scenes of mothers making elaborate bento lunches from scratch for their offspring. Seeing these women washing rice in icy water with bare hands before the crack of dawn I reflect back to my own school lunches of ...

'Erica 38': The rise and fall of a true con artist

Film / Reviews Jun 5, 2019

'Erica 38': The rise and fall of a true con artist

Con artists in movies are typically likeable rogues who prey on the deserving. The title character of Yuichi Hibi's "Erica 38," who is neither "Erica" nor "38," is closer to the unlikable reality: A woman who dupes others with no discernible guilt or remorse, ...

'A Long Goodbye': Taking a lighter look at Alzheimer's

Film / Reviews May 29, 2019

'A Long Goodbye': Taking a lighter look at Alzheimer's

Japanese films about dementia are by now many and, given demographic trends here, interest in the subject is both natural and necessary. But as seen in "A Long Goodbye," Ryota Nakano's drama about a family dealing with the dementia of its once-proud patriarch, dementia has ...

Japan takes a backseat at Cannes

Film | Wide Angle May 23, 2019

Japan takes a backseat at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival, the world's premier film event, has long been a holy grail for Japanese filmmakers. Selection for the main competition is the ultimate goal for many, though screenings in other sections convey prestige at home that other festivals, in Japan and ...

'Jesus': Our father, who art in the Japanese mountains

Film / Reviews May 22, 2019

'Jesus': Our father, who art in the Japanese mountains

Christianity has never really taken hold in Japan, despite hundreds of years of proselytizing (with a long Edo Period interruption for persecution). In his novel, "Silence," Catholic author Shusaku Endo famously described the country as a "swamp" where the sapling of the Christian faith ...