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Masahiro Kobayashi is a unique figure in the Japanese film business. His knotty, idiosyncratic films, starting with the 1996 film “Closing Time,” have never made much at the box office in Japan, though they have become favorites of foreign festival programmers. Four have screened at Cannes, including “Bashing” (2005), a grim drama of alienation and exclusion that was selected for the competition.

That’s four more invitations than most Japanese directors — including those higher up on the local critical pecking order — get in a lifetime, stirring up insinuations that Kobayashi, whose long association with France includes study of the language, must have an “in.”

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