Hiroki Matsukata: a gangster farewell

Film | Wide Angle Feb 1, 2017

Hiroki Matsukata: a gangster farewell

by Mark Schilling

Hiroki Matsukata, who died at age 74 on Jan. 21, may have been born into an acting family — his father was jidaigeki (historical drama) actor Jushiro Konoe — but in his yakuza films for the Toei studio in the 1960s and '70s, Matsukata's ...

Japan's epic samurai dramas are in a tight spot

Film Feb 3, 2016

Japan's epic samurai dramas are in a tight spot

by Kaori Shoji

Japanese can roughly be split into two camps: those equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and those who have only a vague idea of who the samurai were or that a Shogun once lived in what is now the Imperial Palace. The history ...

Japan through the lens of its film genres

Film Sep 16, 2015

Japan through the lens of its film genres

by Mark Schilling

As a new reporter for a movie trade magazine, I quickly learned that every film has its genre — even ones that don't play by genre rules. The industry slices genre-straddling films into discrete categories: action, comedy, sci-fi, etc. Call it crude, but this ...

The man who lives for the art of dying

Film Jul 16, 2014

The man who lives for the art of dying

by Mark Schilling

Interviewing Seizo Fukumoto, the star of Ken Ochiai's backstage drama "Uzumasa Limelight," I wished I had brought a video camera, instead of my voice recorder and notepad. As he talks, this veteran kirare-yaku — an actor whose forte is being cut down with a ...