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What is a “real movie” anyway? Kiyoshi’s Kurosawa’s “Wife of a Spy,” which premiered on public broadcaster NHK’s 8K service in June of last year? Ryuichi Hiroki’s “Ride or Die,” which dropped on Netflix last April? Or Yuki Tanada’s “Cinematic Liars of Asahi-za,” a heartwarming drama first aired by Fukushima Central Television last October?

Purists who regard content made for the small screen as “not cinema” by definition might say “none of the above.” But the first two titles are, in style and treatment, indistinguishable from their makers’ past theatrical films. By contrast, Tanada’s latest, with its broad-stroke performances, folksy humor and teary melodrama, ticks the boxes for TV-friendly entertainment, as does its dialogue-heavy story that anyone can easily follow while sorting their laundry. But is it a “TV movie”? Not quite — and not only because it is getting a theatrical release.

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