May 27, 2015
Kiyoshi Kurosawa won the best director prize in the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section on Sunday, but he also deserves a prize from the Japanese film industry for single-handedly turning its presence at the world's most prestigious film festival from a vague embarrassment to a cause for celebration — at least among the Japanese media.
May 20, 2015
"Inside Architecture — Dare mo Shiranai Kenchiku no Hanashi" is a fascinating look at the relationship between money and city planning, economy and architecture. The filmmaker behind this formidable documentary is 38-year-old Tomomi Ishiyama, a Fulbright scholar who studied at New York City University and later worked as an apprentice to film director Isao Okishima. "Inside Architecture" is her second feature, and her first documentary.
May 13, 2015
In the early 2000s, when I was writing a book about yakuza movies, veterans of the genre's 1960s and '70s heyday I met had a fierce pride in their work but no illusions about its low ranking in the film-world hierarchy. In particular, the Toei studio's films about sword-swinging or gun-toting gangsters had long been conspicuous by their absence from festival circuit lineups and the awards season prize lists.
Apr 22, 2015
Apr 15, 2015
The jidaigeki (samurai period drama) genre, whose films and TV series featuring sword-swinging samurai once dominated popular culture here, has long since fallen on hard times. In contrast to its 1950s peak, when jidaigeki accounted for nearly half the films in theaters, the genre has become something of a niche product, made mainly by older directors for the "silver seat" set.
Apr 8, 2015
The documentary-film scene just keeps getting better, and here's one recent example that strikes a chord. Three women (Kathryn Tolbert, Lucy Craft and Karen Kasmauski) — all first-born daughters of Japanese war brides who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s to wed Americans — have gotten together to make "Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight," a 20-minute documentary about an overlooked slice of life in America's history.
Apr 1, 2015
After "Breaking Bad" finished its five-year run in 2013, fans mourned the loss of one of the most gripping, innovative TV series they'd ever seen. When the head writer and executive producer of "Breaking Bad," Vince Gilligan, announced that there would be a spinoff series, people had their doubts, but "Better Call Saul" has arrived, and it's just as good. It's actually a prequel, focusing on shifty motormouth attorney Saul Goodman (played by comedian Bob Odenkirk) before he became the criminally connected shyster we came to know and love in "Breaking Bad."