'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 ...

'Hard-Core': Of robots and socially marginalized men

Film / Reviews Nov 15, 2018

'Hard-Core': Of robots and socially marginalized men

Live-action manga adaptations — from weepy dramas about teenage love to goofy comedies set in fantasy worlds — usually reflect real life only at its extremes, whether it's the melodramatic or the idiotic. Then there is "Hard-Core Heisei Hell's Bros.," a cult manga about two ...

The Japanese films that made a splash at TIFF

Film | Wide Angle Nov 8, 2018

The Japanese films that made a splash at TIFF

Every year people from the film industry — buyers, programmers and critics — descend on the Tokyo International Film Festival to see what this country has to offer, and every year they usually find at least one gem among the selections in the Japanese ...