Four films out of Japan to watch out for this weekend at cinemas across the archipelago (or to bookmark for the future), and one coming soon:
- In “Under the Turquoise Sky,” first-time feature director Kentaro follows a Japanese man on a journey of self-discovery in Mongolia. “I wanted to make a pan-Asian film, but from the point of view of an Asian person,” he tells James Hadfield. The result, writes Mark Schilling, is “an affectionate, visually sumptuous love letter to Mongolia’s land, people and culture.”
- Rikiya Imaizumi’s bittersweet comedy-drama “In Those Days” delves into the fan culture that flourished during the heyday of idol collective Hello! Project in the early 2000s. Viewers can expect “a fascinating glimpse into the world of pop idol worship: the merchandise, the meet-and-greets, the questionable gender politics,” writes Hadfield, at least for the first hour.
- Part mystery, part courtroom drama, Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s film “First Love” focuses on the repercussions of sexual abuse. The subject matter is dark, but the movie is aimed at a mass audience, with all the compromises that can entail. “First Love” deserves credit for bringing the problem of sexual abuse into the multiplexes, Schilling writes, but it’s no “Life: Untitled.”
- A documentary film about Sadako Sasaki, whose short life in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima inspired generations of antinuclear and peace activists, is in production, Kyodo reports. Provisionally titled “The Miracle of the Paper Cranes,” the film was conceived by Sadako’s nephew, Yuji Sasaki, to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the Pacific War.
- In the boom years of the 1980s, some 90% of Japanese identified as middle class. Meanwhile, Japan’s prewar aristocracy had seemingly vanished. Today, as Yukiko Sode’s “Aristocrats” demonstrates with precision and insight, “the Japanese upper class continues to rule the top rungs of business, politics and society, its byways only dimly glimpsed by those below,” writes Schilling.