'The Wonderland': Surface-level charm, but no true wonder

Film / Reviews Apr 24, 2019

'The Wonderland': Surface-level charm, but no true wonder

by Matt Schley

"The Wonderland," the new film from director Keiichi Hara ("Miss Hokusai"), certainly has the building blocks of something wondrous: a skilled director, top production values, and a story by beloved children's author Sachiko Kashiwaba. One of Kashiwaba's admirers is Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki, whose Academy ...

'Kingdom': An admirable try at Chinese history

Film / Reviews Apr 17, 2019

'Kingdom': An admirable try at Chinese history

by Mark Schilling

Why should Japanese kids care about a manga set in China's Warring States Period, (475-221 B.C.)? The players and power struggles are hard enough for professional historians (and this reviewer) to grasp, let alone 10-year-olds. Yasuhisa Hara found a winning answer in "Kingdom," a manga ...

'JK Rock': A rock 'n' roll battle of the sexes

Film / Reviews Apr 3, 2019

'JK Rock': A rock 'n' roll battle of the sexes

by Mark Schilling

There are many Japanese musical films about aspiring rock and pop stars (though not Hollywood-style musicals, which are seldom made here.) Among the best-loved is "Linda, Linda, Linda," Nobuhiro Yamashita's 2005 film about four teenage girls who hastily form a band and wow the ...

'Shinjuku Tiger': A story of one man and his mask

Film / Reviews Mar 20, 2019

'Shinjuku Tiger': A story of one man and his mask

by Matt Schley

Spend enough time on the streets of Shinjuku, and you'll eventually spot a flamboyantly dressed figure in a tiger mask carrying fake flowers, stuffed animals and a boombox. This is Shinjuku Tiger, the subject of a documentary of the same name out this week. Tiger-san, ...

'Ramen Shop': Finding your family through food

Film / Reviews Mar 13, 2019

'Ramen Shop': Finding your family through food

by Mark Schilling

Food is sustenance, food is pleasure and, as Eric Khoo's nostalgia-drenched "Ramen Shop" reminds us, food is memory. The last is not often seen in Japanese foodie movies, which tend to focus on the hero's arduous journey to mastery of a culinary art. So when the ...