Presenting five new Japanese films packed with strong female characters (but all directed by men). Best enjoyed on a big screen when the emergency’s over — but be safe, people:
- The Vietnamese trainees in “Along the Sea” are seldom seen or heard in Japanese society, but the actresses’ performances make it hard to look away, writes Mark Schilling. And that, director Akio Fujimoto says, is why all Japanese kids should see the film.
- Actress Mei Nagano tells Schilling she learned how to fight and had some laughs along the way in “Office Royale,” which takes OL (“office lady”) culture to a new, brutal level. But, Schilling suggests in his review, it may be too meta for its own good.
- Social realism rubs up against melodrama in the film “A Madder Red,” which focuses on a single mother dealing with economic challenges during the pandemic. Messy and slightly mad, it feels like just the film this year needed, writes James Hadfield.
- A planned peace memorial in a provincial city reopens old wounds triggers open conflict in Ken Kawai’s “Headless Girl,” a scattershot satire about who gets to write history. If you’re looking for easy answers, you won’t find them here, writes Hadfield.
- Takashi Miike has built up a cult global following with his oeuvre of horror movies, often featuring extreme violence (er, “Audition”!). So how did he end up directing “Police × Heroine Lovepatrina!,” a family-friendly film about teen superheroines?