'Divine Justice': The surprises behind closed doors

Film / Reviews Jan 23, 2019

'Divine Justice': The surprises behind closed doors

Love hotels feature in many Japanese films, including those, like Ryuichi Hiroki's "Kabukicho Love Hotel" and Izuru Kumasaka's "Asyl: Park and Love Hotel," that make such establishments a central focus. Typically guests drop their social masks within their walls, while employees get an up-close ...

'Chiwawa': An enigma wrapped in a riddle

Film / Reviews Jan 16, 2019

'Chiwawa': An enigma wrapped in a riddle

Edie Sedgwick was an Andy Warhol "superstar" and Bob Dylan muse who died at age 28 after bouts with mental illness and drug addiction — and has had a long afterlife as a legendary 1960s "it" girl. She is an inspiration for "Chiwawa," Ken Ninomiya's ...

'Kono Michi': A biopic heavy on sentimentality

Film / Reviews Jan 9, 2019

'Kono Michi': A biopic heavy on sentimentality

Biopics are a Hollywood staple, though poets don't usually get a lot of play, with the Beats (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and company) among the prominent exceptions. The same is true in Japan: Notorious criminals are more likely to be the subjects of biopics ...

'It Comes': The bogeyman cometh in Tetsuya Nakashima's horror debut

Film / Reviews Dec 28, 2018

'It Comes': The bogeyman cometh in Tetsuya Nakashima's horror debut

Tetsuya Nakashima has been filming the darker sides of human nature for more than two decades, the most commercially and critically successful example being his 2010 murder mystery, "Confessions." So "It Comes," his screen adaptation of Ichi Sawamura's award-winning horror novel, feels like a natural ...

'jam': Comedy with a touch of 'Misery'

Film / Reviews Dec 5, 2018

'jam': Comedy with a touch of 'Misery'

The films of Sabu — the pseudonym of actor-turned-director Hiroyuki Tanaka — are typically about guys on the move, be it as a troubled soul on a journey ("Blessing Bell") or a crook on the run ("Unlucky Monkey"). The object is usually laughs, though ...

'Killing': A modern take on a samurai staple

Film / Reviews Nov 27, 2018

'Killing': A modern take on a samurai staple

Screening in competition at this year's Venice Film Festival, "Killing" is veteran provocateur Shinya Tsukamoto's first venture into the samurai genre. Made, like most of Tsukamoto's films, on a tiny budget and tight schedule, it does not attempt the scale of classics like "Seven ...

'Gangoose': A modern take on old-school heists

Film / Reviews Nov 21, 2018

'Gangoose': A modern take on old-school heists

Heist movies play to everyone's dream of easy money, earned by criminal smarts and daring. But a convention of the genre, going back to Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film "The Killing" and beyond, is that the big score is also a big trap for the ...

Bruce Nachbar brings Hollywood know-how to Japanese filmmaking

Film Nov 20, 2018

Bruce Nachbar brings Hollywood know-how to Japanese filmmaking

The Japanese film industry may be the second-biggest in Asia, but to Hollywood it is still an island unto itself, its inner workings little understood. And the knowledge gap goes the both ways too; Japanese filmmakers may mine Hollywood for ideas and inspiration, but ...