Here are some treats worth venturing out to your local cinema or theater for, if you happen to be in Japan, that is:
- Miwa Nishikawa’s “Under the Open Sky,” stars Koji Yakusho as a hardened ex-con trying to restart life after 13 years behind bars. The movie, she tells Mark Schilling, “is not only about human good or evil; it’s also about what lies between good and evil. Both are complex, but that’s what human beings are.” Reviewers have collectively given the film a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, and you can read Schilling’s take here.
- Takuya Misawa’s stylish and enigmatic mystery “The Murders of Oiso” centers on a quartet of friends thrown into disarray after a sudden death in their town. “Running at a pithy 79 minutes but in no hurry to get anywhere, this artfully inscrutable rural noir keeps teasing you to imagine the awful things that might be happening just off screen,” writes James Hadfield.
- If you’re in Tokyo, you have days left to catch J.T. Rogers’ Tony-winning “Oslo,” which imagines the clandestine talks that led to the historic Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. “The play is funny and sexy, and you don’t need to know anything about politics,” Rogers assures Nobuko Tanaka. “Like Shakespeare’s plays, you don’t need to know anything because the play will tell you.”
- Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke IV portrays Suginoichi, the antihero of Hisashi Inoue’s play “Yabuhara, the Blind Master Minstrel,” in an update playing in Tokyo before touring elsewhere. Speaking with Tanaka, Ennosuke worries for kabuki’s future amid the pandemic: “The Shochiku company controls the kabuki business, so if Shochiku goes bankrupt then kabuki won’t survive,” he says. “Unfortunately, many don’t care.”
- With the challenges of a global pandemic and a local state of emergency, the Kyoto Experiment international performing arts festival has had to think even further outside the box to pull things off in 2021, write Andrew and Mika Eglington. The city-wide experiment runs through the end of March, though some events have been moved online (and are therefore viewable wherever you are) or converted to screenings.